NHS staff and training cuts ‘unavoidable’

NHS job cuts and a cap on training budgets could be unavoidable, a report detailing a huge budget shortfall in the NHS has warned.

The NHS Confederation report , published yesterday,predicted the organisation would not survive in its current state in just two years’ time.

In the five years from 2011, it forecast that the impact of the recession, allied to rising costs, meant it was likely the NHS would face a real-term shortfall of £15bn.

NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett told delegates at the body’s annual conference: “With little or no cash increase from 2011/12 the NHS has to prepare itself for real-term reductions in what it can afford to do and needs to make the hard decisions about which programmes to fund, how to reward staff and how to reorganise services now.

“If it does not, then the mistakes of the past could be repeated and shortages in funding will translate to the kind of across the board cuts which could see waiting lists lengthen, standards fall and dissatisfaction with the service grow among patients and staff.”

Barnett urged NHS employers to take the opportunity to make efficiency savings now in preparation for the funding shortfall. However, he warned against letting health service pay fall out of line with the economy, or allowing waiting lists to grow.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham, speaking at the event, admitted the health service would face a “challenge” over the next decade, but insisted that raising concerns of closures or job cuts was “completely premature”.

The NHS Confederation annual conference and exhibition 2009 is taking place from 10-12 June at ACC Liverpool.

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