A leaked copy of the Government’s pay and workforce strategy predicts an NHS shortage of nurses and GPs in the next few years.
The document, written by senior civil servants in the Department of Health, about the need to reduce the NHS pay bill, was leaked to the Health Service Journal. Its content apparently includes indications that there will be extensive job losses this year and an excess of consultants who might end up in more junior roles with lesser salaries.
It was reported that the document also recommends a review of the clinical excellence awards: an extra amount paid to very experienced consultants, while also implying that short fixed-term contracts and temporary staff could be called upon to manage varying levels of demand.
A Department of Health spokesman said that recent large investments by the Government into the NHS have resulted in more doctors and nurses being employed, reduced waiting times and improved patient care, while these improvements will continue throughout the next few years. "At the same time, growth in NHS funding will return to more usual levels and the numbers of staff employed in the NHS will stabilise. It is therefore only prudent and sensible to analyse what the workforce make-up should be to meet those challenges. To portray a responsible piece of planning as another ‘crisis for the NHS story’ is alarmist mischief-making on a grand scale," he explained.
A separate report, also leaked to the Health Service Journal, indicates fears over potential industrial action if the pay and salary increase for NHS staff is less than 2% as has already been proposed by the Government.