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Management cull as NHS Direct expands cuts to £28m

By Ian Quinn

NHS Direct has announced new plans for cuts, taking the total revealed over the past few weeks to a massive £28m.

The trust is to axe at least 25 managers and slash the number of its call centre staff , while patients will be forced to make more use more of alternative ‘self-assessment’ services on the internet.

NHS Direct revealed new proposals for £20m cuts in the next financial year alone.

Pulse revealed earlier this month that the NHS Direct board had agreed plans for £8m of cuts in its management budget by the end of March 2011.

Chief executive Nick Chapman claimed the decision to expand the cuts would not impact on front line services.

‘This will be done by reducing costs and improving operational efficiency whilst maintaining the high quality and availability of the service,’ he said.

He claimed improving contact centre efficiency could save in the region of £3.3m, while it is to introduce a clampdown on staff absenteeism by ‘implementing tighter management of long-term and short-term sickness.’

The trust, which runs triage services for a number of GP out-of-hours services, also plans to re-negotiatiate its IT contracts, which it said could save more than £5m.

Mr Chapman said: ‘NHS Direct plans to generate £20m of efficiency savings, which will be returned to the rest of the NHS to be spent on other patient services. We plan to answer at least the same number of calls from the public, serve more patients on the web, and continue to focus on the quality and clinical effectiveness of the service.’

NHS Direct: managers and call centre staff to go NHS Direct: managers and call centre staff to go