Health Education England is planning a ‘drastic’ reorganisation to slash its £85m running costs by 20 per cent.
Details of the proposal and motivation for the radical reshaping of the government agency, which commissions training for healthcare professionals, have been outlined in HEE papers seen by HSJ.
The HEE does not “always act or feel like a single organisation”, the papers said.
In reference to its current structure of a central national body and 13 regional local education and training boards, the papers stated that it “often feels to staff and stakeholders like 14 organisations with a national body called HEE and 13 local bodies”.
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“This leads to a number of functions of HEE being carried out 14 times differently, which is not financially or culturally sustainable,” the papers said.
Under current proposals, the restructure will reduce the number of senior staff on salaries in excess of £100,000 from 25 to around 20, and halve the number that directly report to HEE chief executive Ian Cumming.
While each of the 13 boards will retain their regional footprints, they will have their current “semi-autonomous” freedoms replaced by a new “cross HEE model”.
Each board will also be expected to appoint the chief executive of a local provider to the position of vice chair.
The national body will create four new national directors responsible for a number of boards who will report directly to Mr Cumming.
The overhaul aims to address variations in contracts between universities, external suppliers and other functions such as estate management and the recruitment of healthcare students.
The proposals have sparked concern within the boards. One senior source described the shake up as a “power grab”.
“This is a centralisation of influence and power and the imposition of tighter control under the guise of saving money,” the source added.
A second senior board official did not agree with the “power grab” claim but was concerned about the scale of the shake up.
“This is a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” the source said.
“Nobody argues [against the fact] we have got to save money, but does it have to be this drastic?
“Nobody likes the kind of organisational change that is being thrust upon us, and no one has asked us what we could save if we became more efficient? That is a tragedy.
“Even though their intention is not to be, it still feels like a top-down process. People are worried about any change that might happen and that can impact on productivity, morale and how people do their work. The mood among [boards] is not good.”
A spokesman for Health Education England said: “We have been consulting and engaging with staff and the results of that work will be presented to our board meeting in July.”