HSJ’s round-up of the day’s must read stories

HEE job cuts

More than 300 posts are set to be cut by Health Education England as part of a drive that could save over £10m in pay costs alone, HSJ has learned.

Documents seen by HSJ show the national education and training body is planning to remove at least 315 full-time equivalent posts from its core workforce as part of a restructuring plan.

The proposed cuts follow the 2015 autumn statement, when arm’s length bodies – including HEE – were excluded from the ringfenced health budget after it was redesigned by chancellor George Osborne, to encompass only NHS England’s commissioning budget.

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of HEE, said: “As we made clear in public at our board meeting in March, we are required to reduce our overall running costs by 30 per cent and to reduce the money spent on running our education support by 30 per cent by 2020. This is not about training places or the quality of training but about making changes to our organisational structure and reducing administration costs to ensure we divert all possible resources to the front line and patient care. Similar reductions have been applied to the Department of Health and its other arm’s length bodies.”

Below the line, HSJ readers agreed HEE and other arm’s length bodies needed reform, but were unimpressed with the handling of these redundancies. One commenter on hsj.co.uk put it like this: “Handled, as always, with all the finesse of a drunk three legged elephant in a bar brawl.”

Royal Free cash windfall

HSJ is currently in the process of collecting NHS providers’ reported financial performance figures for 2016-17, and has come across a number of large one-off transactions that have helped trusts get over the line, in terms of meeting their year-end control totals.

The biggest recovery is likely to be the Royal Free London FT, which has met its surplus target after selling one of its hospital sites to its charity arm for £50m.

The deal has certainly raised a few eyebrows – especially as it enabled the trust to receive an extra STF payment – but has apparently been cleared by NHS Improvement and the Charity Commission, and appears to fit in with the charity’s strategy to provide key worker housing.

Without the deal the trust was heading for a deficit in excess of £40m, so it will now have to focus on delivering real operational efficiencies to get back into balance.