A quarter of the most senior jobs at NHS England may be cut, but its information and analytics capabilities are set to be boosted.
NHS England is considering cutting at least 75 management or senior clinical posts, from a total of 300 “very senior manager/clinical posts” by March 2015.
The news came in an email to staff from NHS England’s new chief executive Simon Stevens last Friday.
Although NHS England was formed just 18 months ago, one of Stevens’ first decisions was to launch an organisational review, to make sure it was fit for purpose and to meet a demand for lower running costs.
The email says that phase one of the review included creating “beefed-up commissioning strategy directorate, and a directorate focused on ensuring we manage our own organisation well”, a process which will be completed at the end of the month.
“Phase two- which we are not about to kick off – affects many more of our staff, and to be frank, is principally driven by the running costs we are facing,” the email adds.
However, it says that the commissioning board is looking at “beefing up our information, commissioning analytics and health strategy functions” within the commissioning strategy directorate.
The senior job cuts are designed principally to “save running costs” and to avoid cuts at a less senior level.
In a July letter to staff, Stevens, a former government health advisor who took over from Sir David Nicholson in April this year, said the savings will be “transferred to frontline patient care budget allocations for 2015-16”.
NHS England was established as part of the shake-up of the NHS in April 2012. It is responsible for specialist and primary care commissioning, the smooth functioning of the wider commissioning system, and the NHS Outcomes Framework.
It operates out of a headquarters in Leeds, but also runs local area teams. Stevens has announced “streamlining and efficiencies for all national directorates” and said that regional teams will be re-organised into single tier structures, modelling arrangements in London.
His latest email says: “We will do everything we can to minimise disruption to you and minimise redundancies. I fully recognise that this is a difficult and unsettling period.”
A 45 day consultation period is due to begin, with final decisions on job losses being made in November. Further plans include a review of less senior staff, and projects to “simplify and streamline” the procurement process.
These projects are likely to include “simplifying and reducing the reporting burden” – a priority for NHS England and other national bodies, as part of the government’s commitment to cutting red tape and bureaucracy in the NHS.
Stevens’ email also indicates that the commissioning board will set up a major programmes assurance board to “review its major programmes for effectiveness” – and this would seem to imply a review of some of its IT commitments.