Redundancies are a last resort and NHS organisations are doing everything that they can to protect patients and staff according to NHS Employers, the results of a snapshot survey reveal.
The survey of almost 200 NHS HR directors across England revealed that although some trusts – mainly those with the biggest financial deficits – are planning redundancies, many NHS trusts will use other methods to reduce their spending on the workforce.
Some are freezing vacancies, redeploying staff to other roles or organisations, redesigning roles, and reducing the use of agency and temporary staff.
NHS Employers director Steve Barnett said: “Organisations, even those faced with financial difficulties, are doing everything they can to protect both staff and patients through the many competing pressures that they face.”
Yesterday health secretary Patricia Hewitt was heckled and booed at the Unison health workers’ conference as she tried to calm fears about NHS job cuts. More than 7,000 jobs have already been lost in England alone.
The NHS Employers’ survey said other issues affecting workforce numbers include:
- the reorganisation of the NHS, which will see a reduction in the number of primary care trusts and strategic health authorities
- the changes in NHS funding arrangements, such as the introduction of Payment by Results
- the emergence of other new providers of NHS healthcare, including from the voluntary and private sectors
- the continued redesign of local services as a result of new ways of providing care
- the implementation of new staff contracts including Agenda for Change and the consultant contract.
Barnett said: “These changes will lead to improvements in patient care. However, there will inevitably be some upheaval while they are bedding down.
“What has really stood out from the responses is just how challenging workforce planning is at present and how much effort is going into balancing workforce numbers and continuing to deliver a high quality service through financial and system change.”
The survey showed that posts most affected by reductions were those in management, administration and clerical.