• Department of Health to cut up to 650 jobs
  • DH will relocate staff from three London offices, including Richmond House, to new premises at 39 Victoria Street
  • Job cuts and estate consolidation designed to help DH reduce its costs by 30 per cent

The Department of Health is to cut up to 650 jobs, HSJ can reveal.

It will also relocate all its London based staff from its three offices around the city to new premises at 39 Victoria Street.

George Osborne

George Osborne

Source: Alamy

George Osborne announced cuts to the DH’s budget last year

The department is trying to reduce its running costs by 30 per cent over the next five years.

In November the chancellor announced substantial cuts to non-NHS England health budgets, including the “Whitehall budget” of the DH, as part of cuts across government.

HSJ understands the number of non-senior DH staff will be cut from 1,800 to 1,200-1,300 by April 2017. This process will begin this autumn.

The number of DH deputy directors will be reduced from 116 to 70-80 by April 2017, with the new deputy director structure to be confirmed this summer.

At director level, the DH expects to cut its 25 non-specialist directors to 16-18. It expects to publish its new director structure around Easter.

At the top of the department, the number of director generals will be reduced by an as yet unspecified number by 2017.

Chris Wormald, the incoming permanent secretary, will decide the structure of the DH’s executive committee after he joins the department in April.

Mr Wormald, currently permanent secretary at the Department of Education, will replace Dame Una O’Brien.

As well as reducing the workforce, the DH intends to realise a long held ambition of co-locating all its London based staff in a single building.

All DH employees at Skipton House, Wellington House and the main ministerial office at Richmond House will move to the new building, but the department will retain its Quarry House office in Leeds.

The move to Victoria Street is expected to happen in 2017. It does not include staff working for NHS arm’s length bodies.

The workforce changes are related to the corporate side of the DH, so ministers and ministerial portfolios are not affected.

Dame Una said: “The DH has an important role leading the health and care system in England to help people live better for longer.

“It is only right that the DH should take its fair share of the efficiency savings.

“Consolidating our estate on to fewer sites and reducing staff numbers will enable us to deliver efficiencies and provide the most effective service to the country.”

A DH spokesman said: “Now that the arm’s length bodies are fully bedded in, the priorities for the new parliament are clear and the spending review has confirmed financial expectations, the DH will begin a new programme of modernisation, starting now.”