NHS jobs will not be cut during the recession

Health secretary Alan Johnson has ruled out cutting NHS jobs during the recession, it has emerged.

The minister said yesterday there was “no question” of scaling back or cutting services across the NHS in an attempt to save costs. Speaking at the union Unison’s conference on health in Harrogate, Johnson said the health service would not lose any front-line jobs despite the government’s current focus on cutting costs in the public sector.

Johnson said: “There can be no question of scaling back or cutting services. We have heard predictable calls from certain commentators that public services must take their share of the pain in the global recession; that if people in the private sector are losing their jobs, the response must be to throw nurses and teachers on the dole queue.”

However, earlier this year, a leaked Treasury letter called on all Whitehall departments, including the Department of Health, which is ultimately responsible for the NHS, to look to make efficiency savings and cut back-office jobs. Chancellor Alistair Darling is expected to identify which Whitehall departments will face the brunt of the job cuts, which are likely to reach thousands, in his second Budget later today.

Johnson also gave his support to public sector pay rises, at a time when many private sector firms were freezing pay.

He said: “Those advocating a freeze on public-sector pay believe that we should cut our way out of the recession. This government, together with every other G20 country, believes we must grow our way out of recession.”

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