NHS scheme to make Milton Keynes health services more efficient has cost £22m to set up

A new NHS structure that combines Milton Keynes and Bedfordfordshire health services has cost more than £22million to set up over the past two years, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 5th March 2020, 10:25 am

The Integrated Care System (ICS) called BLMK joins together hospitals, heath providers and councils in Beds, Luton and Milton Keynes in a bid to provide more "joined-up" care for patients.

The idea is that health and social care can be improved, yet cash can be saved by pooling resources.

This week an FOI from Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson revealed the ICS budget was £10.7 million for 18/19, and £11.6 million for 19/20.


Milton Keynes Council leader Pete Marland said: "What do we have to show for it? Very, very little."

He added: "The aim of integrating services to make them better is one we can all agree with. But we could have done so much more, and faster, had local partners just been allowed to get on with it."

Milton Keynes is the least affected by the restructuring, as the main change is a merger between Bedford Hospital and the L&D in Luton.

Last month the Citizen revealed BLMK was seeking a new independent chairperson and planning to pay them £40,000 a year for working just one and a half days a week.

BLMK ICS has cost 22m so far

A source from MK Council said at the time: “Millions and millions of NHS funding, time and effort has been lost to perpetual reviews that achieve nothing. Any potential improvement ideas have been lost to a maze of jargon, a layer of tone deaf NHS administrators and an army of expensive consultants, all competing to justify their next expensive road to nowhere.

“Even most people who are close to this have lost track of all the structures and what they are supposed to be doing.

“If anyone thinks the idea of paying some has been ex-NHS boss or ex-MP will solve the problem that the local CCG management are remote and useless or that the NHS is full of vested interests more interested in getting funding into their own coffers than patient care, then they are deluded.”

The source concluded: “The whole thing is now so totally impenetrable and complex as to be next to worthless, unless it’s part of your job to keep up the pretence something worthwhile is happening. What a waste of money!”

MK A and E

This week Bedford Mayor Dave said of the £22m restructuring sum: "It's a lot ...With so much public money being spent on another NHS reorganisation, it is crucial that it is run with more transparency and accountability.”

He added: “It shouldn’t take an FOI request for me or anyone else to get an answer to the simple question of how much the new Integrated Care System is costing us all.’

NHS chiefs insist local health services can provide better and more joined-up care for patients when different organisations work together as an ICS.

For staff, improved collaboration can help to make it easier to work with colleagues from other organisations. And systems can better understand data about local people’s health, allowing them to provide care that is tailored to individual needs, they say.

A and E

A spokesman for BLMK said: "By working alongside councils, and drawing on the expertise of others such as local charities and community groups, BLMK ICS can help local people to live healthier lives for longer, and to stay out of hospital when they do not need to be there.

"In return, the BLMK leaders have greater freedoms to manage the operational and financial performance of services in their area."