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White paper spreads NHS jobs fear

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White paper spreads NHS jobs fear

More than 80 percent of staff working in
strategic health authorities and primary care trusts in England expect to lose
their jobs or are uncertain about the future, according to an exclusive poll.

Almost 40 percent of the 400 respondents
to the survey believe they will be made redundant or lose their contract as a
result of the white paper, ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’, and a
further 46 percent do not know what will happen to them. Many expect to know
their fate within the next three to six months, with the demand for the health
service to make £20 billion efficiency savings over the next four years having
a further impact.

One respondent
wrote: “We need to make 30 percent to 40 percent management cost savings in
year so we expect redundancies to be announced soon.”

eHealth Insider
ran a poll to assess the impact of the white paper over the summer. It was
completed by 403 NHS staff working for SHAs, PCTs and health informatics
services, in jobs covering IT (65 percent), general management (11 percent) and
commissioning (16 percent).

Three quarters
of those completing the survey had worked for the NHS for more than five years,
including a fifth who had worked for the health service for more than 20 years.
Almost half were department heads or senior managers.

The vast
majority of respondents (86 percent) said morale had declined since the
government outlined its plans to scrap commissioning bodies and transfer their
functions to a new NHS Commissioning Board and GP commissioning consortia.

Of these, most
(58 percent) said that morale had declined greatly and 18 percent reported that
morale had fallen slightly. No respondent reported that it had increased

Free text
comments included: “They are huge cuts to staff numbers, driving morale through
the floor”. The survey also revealed that 33 percent of respondents expected no
benefits to flow from the white paper, and more than half thought it would lead
to poorer patient care. And just over a quarter feared that “the reorganisation
could distract attention from quality/patient safety.”

Jon Hoeksma,
editor of eHealth Insider, said: “What is surprising is just how little
confidence there is that the changes will be worth it, and how few people think
the white paper will improve patient care. If there is a big idea behind these
changes, the government needs to spell it out and start working to take people
with it.” More than one in ten respondents (13 percent) expected to be working
for the private sector in healthcare, while seven percent believed their future
job would lie outside healthcare.

Asked to predict
the impact of the white paper on colleagues, 47 percent thought many would lose
their jobs and leave healthcare, while 25 percent believed colleagues would
find new jobs in the health service. NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson
has admitted that many NHS staff will find the latest round of reorganisation
difficult and that a “significant” number will lose their jobs. The day after
the white paper was published, he promised that “every” member of staff working
in an SHA or PCT would have the chance to discuss their future with a line
manager by the end of September.

However, the
survey, from healthcare information website which was
conducted between 20 August and 17 September 2010, found that just 26 percent
of respondents had had an interview with their line manager, although a further
36 percent expected to do so.

29 September 2010

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