NHS managers face up to 2,000 job losses: Senior staff warned of 'significant compulsory redundancies'

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The Independent Online
AS MANY as 2,000 staff, many of them senior managers, are poised to lose their jobs in the slimming down of top management in the National Health Service, health authorities and NHS trusts were told yesterday. There would be 'significant' compulsory redundancies.

Alan Langlands, chief exeutive designate of the NHS, spelling out the extent of the revolution in the way the NHS is to be run at the centre, pledged 'every effort to minimise compulsory redundancies'.

He believed that 'many people currently working in regional health authorities and the NHS management executive who cannot find a place in the new arrangements will find new opportunities in other parts of the NHS and central government'.

He warned, however, that these were 'not easy times for staff', as Ken Jarrold, chief executive of Wessex regional health authority who has special responsibility nationally for personnel, told a London conference of the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts that 'many hundreds of people are likely to lose their jobs' and there would be 'significant' compulsory redundancies.

The latest round of NHS changes will over the next two years produce 'one single corporate management structure at the centre of the NHS,' Mr Langlands said. Eight regional offices will replace the 14 regions which currently oversee health authorities and GP fundholders, and the management outposts which oversee NHS trusts.

Mr Jarrold, whose own region made 50 people redundant before Christmas, said the exact number would not be clear until July but some 2,000 jobs were likely to go from the 4,000-plus in the regions and the management executive.

At the same time, the Department of Health's own functions are being reviewed in an exercise that could see yet more jobs go on the civil service side of the department.

NHS management costs have come under heavy fire from Labour, and from some NHS trust chairmen since the reforms took effect. Many of those costs, caused by health care being bought on contracts, will remain.

Mr Langlands warned that with public spending 'very tight' there was 'a legitimate expectation of a return on the increased investment in management costs at operational level'. In addition, the pressure for savings in central management costs was 'immense', he said.

Such savings, however, 'must be properly thought through' and management should not be cut to the point where gains in patient care were lost. Many big organisations which had cut their central management in the Eighties, he said, found they had 'thrown away the baby with the bath water'.

Mr Jarrold told the conference the new regional offices would not be able to behave as old feudal fiefdoms: 'The new regional directors will be directly accountable to the new chief executive of the NHS.'