Tuesday, 5 Jul 2022

NHS bureaucracy has DOUBLED since start of Covid

NHS bureaucracy has DOUBLED since start of Covid while frontline medic workforce has stagnated

  • More than 14,500 health officials now compared to 7,800 in February 2020
  • Nursing workforce has increased by just 7% despite desperate shortages 
  • Will add to concerns the £12billion NHS cash injection will be swallowed up

The number of bureaucrats in the NHS has doubled since Covid hit despite frontline staff numbers staying the same, a damning report has found.

Analysis by the Policy Exchange thinktank showed there were 14,515 officials working in NHS England and the Department of Health in February — up from 7,883 in 2020.

These figures do not include governmental health agencies like the UK Health Security Agency which got bigger during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the number of NHS nurses increased by just 7 per cent in the past two years, despite the frontline workforce being central to the NHS’ Covid recovery plan.

The Policy Exchange described the disparity as ‘astonishing’ and has called for an urgent review.

It will add to concerns the £12billion NHS cash injection will be swallowed up by the bloat of bureaucracy in the health service instead of tackling the waiting list crisis.

The extra money is being funded by a 1.25 per cent tax hike that broke a key Tory manifesto pledge in 2019 and came into effect in April.

A record 6.4m people – one in nine of the population – in England are on waiting lists for NHS treatment, with A&E waits at their worst level ever and an ambulance service in crisis.

The number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment in England has hit a record of 6.36million. NHS data shows one in nine people were in the queue for elective operations such as hip and knee replacements and cataracts surgery by March — up from 6.18m in February 

Separate data on A&E performance in April shows a record 24,138 people were forced to wait 12 hours or more to be treated, three times longer than the NHS target and the worst figure on record

The Policy Exchange report found the amount spent on salaries at the DoH and NHSE has doubled in the two years since February 2020, from £42m to £83m.

During that time, the number of nursing staff has risen slightly from 298,632 to 319,808. 

The thinktank said central bureaucracy should not be allowed to continue to grow exponentially while frontline services stagnate.

Boris ditches ban on junk food deals to soften cost of living blow

Boris Johnson will scrap a ban on ‘buy one get one free’ junk food deals and a 9pm watershed for sugary snacks to help poorer families.

The policies are being pushed back for at least a year in an attempt to soften the blow of soaring living costs but they could be ditched entirely.

Mr Johnson aims to prioritise creating jobs and boosting the economy, moving away from ‘nanny state’ interventions that he famously opposed until recently.

The Prime Minister announced the policies as part of a crackdown on obesity after a near-fatal bout of Covid in 2020 — which he attributed to being too fat.

A new law restricting offers on foods high in fat, sugar and salt was due to come into effect in medium and large shops in October. Under the plans, junk food giants were also to be banned from advertising online and before 9pm on TV by January 2023.

But Mr Johnson has finally bowed to pressure from his backbenchers — who have been lobbying for them to be ditched for months and whose support is key for the PM following the Partygate scandal.

Robert Ede, head of health and social care at the thinktank, told The Telegraph: ‘The uptick in the number of frontline NHS staff has been dwarfed by the astonishing increase of central bureaucrats – and this must be urgently addressed.’ 

Separate figures show 125 health officials — including 50 at NHS England — are on salaries of more than £150,000 a year, the newspaper reports. 

Concerns are also being raised about the number of bureaucrats essentially doing the same job.

NHS England is currently merging with a number of other health bodies, including NHS Digital and Health Education England.

But Policy Exchange has said staff in managerial positions across the different organisations will have functions which duplicate each other.

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has promised to reform the NHS to ensure that record spending is used in the most efficient way.

Sir Gordon Messenger, a general who led the Royal Marines’ invasion of Iraq, has been appointed to lead the shake-up.

He has been asked to stamp out ‘waste and wokery’ in the health service and ensure ‘every pound is well spent’.

It comes after Boris Johnson ordered ministers to slash the size of the Civil Service by a fifth to free up billions for tax cuts.

He said the Civil Service had become ‘swollen’ during the pandemic and more than 90,000 jobs had to go.

Official figures show there are now 306,000 patients in England who have been waiting for more than a year for their operation and 16,796 have been seeking treatment for more than two years.

Separate data on A&E performance in April shows a record 24,138 people were forced to wait 12 hours or more to be treated, three times longer than the NHS target and the worst figure on record.  

Just seven in 10 patients were seen within four hours of arriving at ‘absolutely packed’ emergency departments making it the second-lowest rate ever recorded. 

Ambulance figures for April show 999 waits fell compared to March but were higher than nearly all other months since records began. 

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