NHS Employers have urged health trusts to consider alternatives to job cuts when they seek radical cost savings to counter the service’s enormous funding shortfall, predicted this week to reach £15bn by 2016.
Sian Thomas, director of NHS Employers, which represents 600 NHS trusts in England on workforce issues, has insisted that major efficiencies can be achieved across the NHS without resorting to a reduction in jobs or training budgets. She cited better use of technology and a focus on skills development to engage staff at less cost.
A report by the NHS Confederation this week, which Thomas helped to compile, revealed the health service would face a budget shortfall of £15bn in the five years from 2011.
But Thomas said: “[The report] outlines a very difficult situation, it’s a huge shortfall. We need to retain jobs and maintain training wherever possible and look at alternatives for creating savings.
“We are worried about training because mistakes have been made in the past to cut training budgets, and nothing is immune in this environment. But I am confident that people won’t do what has been done before.
“We are calling for employers to think ahead to recognise the value of keeping people in jobs. Our call to arms is that services need to be radically reformed and redesigned. There are inefficiencies in the system that can be addressed.”