Education and training posts across the country could be axed as part of the second phase of Health Education England’s cost cutting reorganisation.

The £5bn organisation - responsible for healthcare education and workforce planning - has confirmed plans to find £7m savings in a review of staff employed by its 13 local education and training boards, which will start in October.

In recent weeks HEE launched a consultation to re-organise senior roles within the local boards, with the loss of senior roles and the creation of four new national directors, as part of plans to cut its running costs by 20 per cent (£17m) by next March.

This re-organisation of senior roles, which has sparked fears HEE is centralising control away from the boards, is estimated to save £2m.

Following the education and training board’s creation under the Health and Social Care Act, the majority of staff were transferred to HEE through a “lift and shift” exercise from the former strategic health authority workforce and deanery functions without any review of roles.

Phase two of the reorgansiation will “look at the numbers and type of staff needed to deliver HEE’s functions including servicing the needs of LETBs”, the HEE said.

The proposals will go out to consultation in October and will form the largest amount of savings as part of the cost cutting reorganisation.

Other savings include:

  • £4m from stopping recurrent under spending;
  • £3m savings on non-pay costs such as estates and procurement costs; and
  • reductions in back office running costs of £1m.

An HEE spokeswoman told HSJ it could not confirm the number of posts at risk in phase two as the review process was yet to begin. HEE employed 2,483 staff at the end of June.

The organisation said its focus was on finding savings in non-salary areas. It added: “We are already identifying much of the required savings from restrictions on recruitment and the use of agency staff, reviewing current vacancies, reducing travel and accommodation costs, an estates review involving leases on over 40 properties and better procurement.”

In a statement, it added: “We need to improve the way we work and we cannot continue to have 14 different approaches to procurement, information governance or a host of other procedures.

“Staff recognise that we can’t work in the same way as we do now; with a 20 per cent reduction in running costs it would not be fair or sustainable.”

HEE said it was working with trade unions and was confident of minimising the number of compulsory redundancies.

Dame Jessica Corner, chair of the Council of Deans of Health, said: “We understand Health Education England needs to reduce costs and streamline some of the commissioning and back office functions.

“But I am worried some of the great local partnership working that we have worked hard to build over the last year between trusts, universities and LETBs may be undermined in another re-organisation. There is a risk that the voice on education for nurses and allied health professionals will be diminished in the new structures.”

Ieuan Ellis, dean of health at Leeds Metropolitan University told HSJ: “The untimely haste in progressing a proposed restructuring of HEE, barely 12 months into its existence as a newly created body, is driven by cost reduction.

“The timing and pace of the proposed changes appear premature and risk de-stabalising new LETB workforce planning and education commissioning structures and functions before these have become properly embedded or evaluated.”