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Could big job cuts save the NHS?

7th September 2009

An article in Management Today explores the proposals made in a McKinsey report which say the NHS should impose staff cuts to make savings.

future of nhsQ

The brainboxes at McKinsey have suggested to the government that the health service should reduce its workforce by 10%. Their report said that making these cuts would result in a saving of around £20 billion by 2014. 

It is true that the massive expansion of the health service has given rise to wastefulness and the budget needs to come under scrutiny. However, if the government were to impose job reductions on this scale it would be politically self-destructive.

It is no great surprise that the government quickly rejected the - seemingly leaked - recommendations.

The report said that the health service was capable of losing around 137,000 staff. It also recommended that the NHS encouraged staff to retire early and that they should stop hiring new staff.

McKinsey also said increased productivity could save the service an additional £3 billion, with another £2 billion to be made by making better deals on meals and waste disposal.

Sadly, the goverment has rejected the whole idea as "rubbish". Health minister Mike O'Brien talked to the BBC and said the health service needed to employ more workers, not less.

It is important to remember that something must be done to address the predicted £15 billion shortfall between now and 2015.

The health service is responsible for around 18% of all public spending – this equates to £100 billion, of which 60% is spent on salaries for the 1.5 million NHS staff.

The government has put in billions of pounds worth of investment in order to reduce waiting lists, but this has resulted in increased inefficiency.

The government will have to address this issue and attack the budget. However, nobody in politics seems to be up to the job -  they only talk weakly about ‘protecting the NHS’, without even considering making reductions.

Despite the ideas proposed by McKinsey, the chance of anyone in political power getting rid of 10% of health service jobs is "non-existent".

 

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