NHS to axe 300 support jobs

NHS to axe 300 support jobs



Around 300 NHS support staff are facing redundancy in the first wave of management job cuts since last April's reorganisation, according to NHS England. In a significant slimming down of the commissioning support units (CSUs), which support GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHS England has confirmed there would be a 3% reduction in staffing levels "so that resources are focused on frontline services, and taxpayers' money is used effectively".


CSUs have around 9,400 staff – more than NHS England itself which has around 6,000 – and have a combined income from their NHS "customers" of around £700m. They provide a range of services to CCGs, including assessment of business intelligence, communications and marketing, and business support such as IT, HR and legal services.


An NHS England spokesman said: "The new commissioning system has had time to settle, and CSUs are now better placed to understand the full cost of providing services to their customers in the most efficient way. This does mean looking again at their cost base, including local workforce arrangements, going forward. "Early indications show that CSUs across the country believe that this could mean compulsory redundancies equating to around 3% of the total CSU workforce (which currently equates to 292 posts). CSUs are also considering reductions in vacancies as well as other options such as changes to work patterns."


NHS managers say they anticipated some fine-tuning of the units, but expressed alarm at the scale of the downsizing.


Dr Johnny Marshall, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said it must be acknowledged that CSUs "took on a huge task in a new environment", and added that they should be given time to establish themselves. "It is clearly an unsettling time for staff working at CSUs. It's important to ensure we are providing commissioning support services as efficiently and effectively as possible, so it is right to look at whether the structures we currently have are delivering that," he said.

He added: "Any change needs to be led by CSUs themselves in response to what CCGs are saying they need. The NHS does not need any further reorganisation less than a year after the new system was established, but if by concentrating expertise brings patient benefits, it might in the longer term be necessary. "However, any changes must ensure we are not depriving the system of the commissioning knowledge, skills and expertise at a time when it is most needed."


Dr Steve Kell, NHS Clinical Commissioners leadership group co-chair, said: "It's important that CSUs are efficient and cost effective, but it is essential that they meet the needs of their customers – that is, CCGs. The NHS has seen a significant reduction in management and this planned reduction in running costs must not prevent clinical commissioners achieving the bigger goal of a better sustainable NHS."


According to NHS England, CSUs' income is reliant on providing a high-quality, cost-effective service to CCGS. CCGs currently spend only half of their administrative and running costs budget allowance on services provided by CSUs. Nationally, this accounts for £500m of the income the units receive.


An NHS England spokesman said: "We recognise that these are tough decisions, which are being taken so that resource is focused on frontline NHS services. CSUs are working hard to ensure that any colleagues affected by changes are fully engaged with, and any decisions are subject to, ongoing discussions and local consultations in conjunction with trade union representatives."


Local 45-day consultations on redundancies began on 7 January and will follow national guidelines to ensure consistency across CSUs around the country


By Paul Dinsdale


The Guardian,  27th of January, 2014.


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