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The News Line: News ‘SACK 137,000 FROM NHS’ – secret report tells Labour Government ministers rushed out denials yesterday in the wake of a report calling for the axing of 137,000 NHS doctors, nurses and other clinical staff as well as managers.

The job cuts were proposed by management consultants McKinsey and Company who were called in by the Department of Health to examine how to save £20bn by 2014.

In their report, leaked to the Health Service Journal, the consultants also said a recruitment freeze and early retirement programme should be established.

It also said that savings of up to £3bn a year could be made by improving staff productivity, while nearly £2bn could be saved on external contracts in areas such as waste and food.

The report produced a furious response from health unions.

Dr Mark Porter, Deputy Chairman of the BMA’s Consultants Committee, warned: If implemented, these short-sighted proposals would have been disastrous.

‘We welcome the commitment given by the government that it has rejected them and does not see workforce cuts as the solution to the challenges facing the NHS.’

He concluded that ‘Ending poor value contracts with private providers and ditching independent management consultants from the NHS would be a start.’

Slamming the ‘much-repeated mantra of job cuts, as the answer to NHS savings’, Karen Jennings, UNISON Head of Health said: ‘Management consultants prepare their statistics and graphs and put them into reports, without having responsibility for the consequences.

‘Back in the NHS we have seen the very real problems caused by under-staffing in the Mid-Staffs hospital and the resulting impact on the quality of patient care.’

Jennings added: ‘It is even more counter-productive to single out the national stroke and the children’s service strategy to be cut.

‘Both these areas have produced tangible results. Cuts in the stroke strategy will simply lead to worse patient outcomes and the need for longer term care in the community, and more money needed spent to less positive benefit.’

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Chief Executive Dr Peter Carter said: ‘These proposals are deeply worrying because recent studies show that there is a direct link between the number of nurses working on wards and patient deaths.

‘When there are not enough nurses on the ward, patients are more likely to die or experience complications.

‘It is reckless to think about reducing staff levels without considering in detail the impact on patient care.

‘The suggestion that community nurses should be encouraged to retire demonstrates a very poor understanding of what is happening in the health service.

‘With 200,000 nurses due to retire in the next ten years, this represents a very serious shortfall which needs to be addressed urgently.

‘Reducing the number of nurses leaves those who are working more stressed and unable to provide the standard of care which they would like.’

Health minister Mike O’Brien claimed yesterday: ‘There are no plans to adopt these proposals in the future.



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