David Cameron said his first priority is to “protect frontline services and jobs”, as the Government takes “radical” action to deal with the budget deficit.
In a speech on public sector reforms, the Prime Minister today admitted that it would be unrealistic to hope to avoid job losses entirely but said that the Government had given itself the best chance of protecting jobs by taking “swift and radical action”.
This follows reports before Christmas that thousands of public sector jobs were under threat as councils gave the stautory 90 days’ notice for redundancies before budget cuts in March.
Cameron said: “No one believes that the budget deficit is the fault of public sector workers. Responsibility lies squarely with ministers in the last Government who allowed spending to run out of control.”
The proposals outlined by Cameron to modernise public services focus on giving more freedom to frontline workers and “injecting competition” into public services.
“There is a huge pent-up frustration among so many public sector workers who see how things could be different but can’t make it happen,” Cameron added. “Everything I have spoken about today will give [them] that power.”
He also defended the speed with which changes to the public sector are being implemented, adding that there is an urgent case for improving schools and healthcare.
However, plans for a top-down reorganisation of the NHS have been met with criticism from medical groups, unions and shadow health secretary John Healey, who say that the measures are unnecessary.
Healey said: “Strong criticism from NHS experts, professional bodies and patient groups show that those who know the health service best fear the Government will force competition, price wars and privatisation on the NHS at the expense of good patient care.
“The more NHS staff organisations see of the Tory-led Government’s plans, the harder they find it to say something in support.”
A health Bill will be published this week, which will outline plans for reform in the NHS including allowing GP consortiums to take over management of NHS primary care trusts, and an education bill will follow next week.
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