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‘Profligate’ trusts reveal plans for swingeing managerial cuts

By Ian Quinn

NHS leaders are taking the first step to reversing the huge rise in health service management costs, with a series of PCTs planning deeper than expected cuts as soon as the coming financial year.

Thousands of NHS managers are set to lose their jobs under the plans, which follow a Pulse investigation revealing the spiralling cost to the health service of management salaries.

Documents obtained by Pulse reveal PCTs across the country will be asked to reduce their spending on managers by as much as a fifth in the coming financial year, with GPs warning the cuts are a sign of just how bloated trusts have become.

Early findings from Pulse's pre-election survey, of more than 700 GPs, reveal almost 90% support for sweeping NHS cuts in management costs, as a way of avoiding reductions in front-line services such as those proposed in London last week.

NHS East Midlands plans for all its PCTs to cut management spending by 20% in the next financial year, with further cuts to follow.

Areas affected will include Derby, Nottingham, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire, which will be required to come up with plans for job cuts. The SHA said up to £10m could be saved by contracting out back-office functions alone.

‘The strategy proposes to meet the requirement for a reduction of 30% to PCT and SHA management costs and requires demonstration of the first 20% in 2010/11,' says the SHA's financial strategy.

Elsewhere, NHS South West Essex has brought in plans for ‘strict budget controls, particularly on administrative and management costs', with the trust expecting to cut its spending on management this financial year by £2.5m.

The moves contrast with NHS London's hugely controversial plans for efficiency savings in clinical services, including proposals to cut GP appointment times by a third and the closure of hospitals.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Pulse: ‘The fact PCOs are able to propose cuts of this magnitude begs the questions of how they were able to pay these huge management salaries in the first place.'

‘It highlights the huge level of profligacy in the investments they have made. I hope this process can lead to an entirely new approach based around clinicians being involved in making crucial management decisions.'

The Department of Heath has told all NHS organisations to reduce management and back office spending by 30% by 2013/14, although no target has been set for the next financial year.

PCTs across the country are planning to cut spending on managers PCTs across the country are planning to cut spending on managers Management cuts in numbers

25% - average hike in management spend in past two years

20% - cut in management spending proposed in latest SHA documents

£20bn - cutbacks proposed for NHS in next five years