5,000 jobs to be lost in purge of health service quangos

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Around 5,000 jobs are to be cut in an attack on NHS bureaucracy as half of health service quangos are axed or merged.

The Health Secretary John Reid is expected to tell Parliament today that 21 of the 42 NHS quangos will be abolished or combined, freeing £500m to be invested in front-line services. A Department of Health spokesman confirmed that Dr Reid would make a written statement to the House of Commons at 9.30am.

He was expected to say that the cash saved by slimming down health bureaucracy could employ 20,000 new nurses, build four new hospitals, employ more than 6,000 hospital consultants or 7,500 general practitioners.

It was not yet clear which bodies would be affected, but Dr Reid was expected to tell MPs that no organisation could be ruled out of the cull and many would be radically changed or slimmed down. Thousands of administrative support jobs could go. The 5,000 posts will be cut by natural wastage or redundancy by 2007-08.

These job losses will come on top of plans to scrap 1,400 posts - or 38 per cent of central civil service staff - at the Department of Health headquarters.

The quangos, which have responsibility for safeguarding patient interests, setting standards and regulating health services, have a combined staff of 22,000 people with budgets totalling £2.5bn.

Reports las night suggested the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the National Blood Authority, the General Social Care Council, the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health and the NHS Logistics Authority were candidates to be cut.

Some of the bodies believed to be vulnerable were set up within the past few years by the Labour administration. Ministers believe there are too many bodies regulating the health service, safeguarding patients' interests and setting standards and too many concerned with central services. A final decision on which bodies are to go is expected next month.