NHS England has been urged to centrally manage NHS redundancies again amid widespread expectations of cost-saving layoffs over the next two years.
Both union bosses and the agency’s commissioning support committee have told the organisation’s bosses to run another centrally managed HR programme.
This would enable staff at risk of redundancy to be matched to vacancies elsewhere in the system, minimising pay-offs and enabling those who want to continue working in the NHS to do so.
NHS England last ran a central transition programme in 2012-13 to manage the movement of staff from defunct bodies to the new commissioning system.
However, papers for NHS England’s May board meeting, due to take place this week, said there was a “likely need” for further “cost-reduction exercises”.
“The [NHS England CSU committee] agreed that NHS England should consider reinstating a national HR transition process across the system to maximise redeployment opportunities.”
Representatives from the Unison union, which represents many NHS commissioning staff, are understood to have made similar arguments to NHS England directors.
Commissioning support units, which employ around 9,000 people, cut 300 staff positions in 2013-14 and further reduncies are expected this year.
The entire commissioning system is due to be hit by a 10 per cent cut to the NHS administration budget in 2015-16, saving £300m.
As a result, CSUs, clinical commissioning groups and NHS England expect to make further redundancies during 2014-15 to prepare for their shrinking budgets.
With more than 30,000 staff in the wider NHS commissioning sector, this could lead to thousands more redundancies.
The centrally run HR programme could potentially cut across the policy of increasing autonomy for CSUs, which are due to become independent of NHS England during 2016.
NHS England is yet to introduce a voluntary redundancy scheme.
It had originally intended to bring one in earlier this year, but the scheme stalled due to concerns over re-employing staff who had received substantial payoffs.