HR chief claims NHS will see few job cuts

Very few NHS organisations are actually making any “real” redundancies, despite headlines suggesting waves of job cuts, according to Andrew Foster, who has just left his post as NHS workforce director.

The Royal College of Nursing warned last week that up to 13,000 jobs could be cut this year as a result
of mounting financial pressures.

But Foster said on aggregate the NHS workforce would stay in balance this year, and the reductions in some organisations were a “light touch on the brakes” for overall numbers.

“The facts need to be seen alongside the headlines. There will only be a handful of real redundancies, few compulsory,” he told Personnel Today. “Some trusts are increasing their numbers.”

NHS Employers held a closed session about how to deal with workforce reductions at its conference for NHS organisations. Employers that took part echoed Foster’s view that redundancies were only a small factor in reducing numbers.

The Department of Health (DoH) is pushing for organisations to reduce the use of temporary and agency staff. Last year, the NHS spent about £1bn on these workers, down from £1.3bn in 2004-05. The DoH wants that figure to fall even further in the coming financial year.

A snapshot survey of almost 200 HR directors conducted by NHS Employers also found that cutting overtime, freezing vacancies and redeploying staff were other methods favoured to reduce workforce spend.

For more on the survey, go to

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