The Government's disastrous management of the health service has been revealed by the leakage of a document, which predicts a crippling shortage of nurses, measly pay rises and strikes.
A copy of a secret Government memo on pay and workforce strategy reveals that 37000 posts are in danger as the Government desperately seeks to lower the NHS wages bill with a 2.7 per cent cut in the workforce.
AdvertisementNHS reveals that by 2011 there will be 3,200 more consultants than there are jobs.
A lack of jobs will force them to be employed in junior roles at lower salaries.
This move is bitterly opposed by the British Medical Association.
The document leaked to the Health Service Journal (HSJ), suggests that by 2011 there will be a shortage of 14,000 nurses and 1,200 GPs, while there will be a surplus of 16,200 physiotherapists, healthcare scientists and technicians.
Clinical excellence awards given to the best consultants will also be cut, which again was suggested as a way of saving money.
The BMA has reacted with anger to these proposals. Jonathan Fielden, the chairman of the BMA consultants' committee, said: It is absurd to suggest that the NHS in England needs fewer hospital consultants. NHS consultants have driven the massive cuts in waiting times and continue to deliver real improvements in patient care. To suggest that there should be fewer consultants, and of a lower grade, will destroy the gold standard of specialist care that patients rightly deserve.
Health secretary Patricia Hewitt had recently announced there were too many nurses in the NHS, which led to mass job cuts. Now officials predict a mass shortage of nurses by 2010.
The cash crisis also means refusal of proper pay rises for staff which could prompt a strike.
After spending millions of pounds on training medics to become consultants, the NHS will be too cash-strapped to pay more than 3,000 of them.
The documents compiled before Christmas suggest that one way out of the current calamity would be to prevent young doctors becoming consultants.
Instead, a lowly paid post, called a 'sub-consultant,' would be created.
A Department of Health spokesman told that NHS had to accept that change was ahead. 'The NHS is at a turning point. In the past few years the Government has invested huge amounts of money, many more doctors and nurses have been employed, waiting times have been cut dramatically and patient care has improved.
'Over the next few years the NHS needs to consolidate improvements in patient care, reduce waiting times to a maximum of 18 weeks, respond to patient demand for care closer to home and to become more efficient in its use of resources.
'At the same time, growth in NHS funding will return to more usual levels and the numbers of staff employed by the NHS will stabilise.
'This work is at an early stage, and the ideas in the paper are very much what any health expert would be expecting the department to be considering.
'We have already been in discussion with unions and other partners on the issues and we will of course consult with stake holders as the thinking develops. Some of these ideas will be dropped and some will become policy.'