Steve Barclay has got rid of hundreds of civil servants to free up cash for the NHS, insiders claimed today.
The Department of Health and Social Care’s workforce is now a sixth smaller than it was nine months ago, with just 3,316 mandarins now employed.
Sources close to the Health Secretary said he has ‘always been interested in cutting bureaucracy’.
Mr Barclay’s war on waste is aimed at cutting waiting lists, which have soared to an all-time high following months of NHS strikes, insiders said.
Some 3,978 civil servants were employed by the department on October 31, 2022 — the start of Mr Barclay’s first full week in his current role.
Some 3,978 civil servants were employed by the department on October 31, 2022 — the start of Mr Barclay’s first full week in his current role. But as of July 18, the total number had been slashed to 3,316, according to statistics released by the Department of Health in response to a written question from Sir Jacob Rees Mogg
But as of July 18, the total number had been slashed to 3,316, according to statistics released by the Department of Health in response to a question from Sir Jacob Rees Mogg.
Health minister Will Quince, who responded to the question, noted that ‘contingent’ workers, secondments, recent graduates on the Civil Service Fast Track scheme and vacancies were not included.
Figures show the Government recruits just short of 1,000 graduates to the scheme annually.
A Government source told The Telegraph today: ‘Steve has always been interested in cutting bureaucracy and getting the taxpayer value for money.
‘This goes right back to when he was a member of the public accounts committee, after first being elected to Parliament, and his time as chief secretary to the Treasury.’
They added: ‘In just a few months as Health Secretary, he’s been able to significantly reduce the number of civil servants in the Whitehall department, while making sure that more money is going to the front line.
‘Be that more money for doctors and nurses or the latest technology, all of which is aimed at cutting waiting lists and getting people better treatment more quickly.’
The Telegraph understands the workforce crackdown was made by reducing the use of consultants, voluntary redundancies and a department recruitment freeze.
It comes after Mr Barclay in June ordered hospital bosses to hire more doctors and nurses instead of managers.
He told NHS trusts in England that the £2.4billion of extra funds being injected, to help stabilise the troubled health service as part of the NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan, should be spent on bringing in clinical staff.
Under the 15-year staffing plan, it is hoped more than 300,000 extra nurses, doctors, allied health staff and other health workers will be trained and working by 2036/37.
A record 7.47million people are currently waiting to start routine hospital treatment, NHS figures for the end of May also show – up from 7.42 million the previous month.
This is the highest number since records began for the NHS in England, in 2007.
Last year ex-PM Boris Johnson unveiled plans for the near 20 per cent reduction in overall headcount to ‘prune’ back the civil service to 2016 levels.
But Rishi Sunak later announced he had scrapped the target of 91,000 civil service job cuts and ordered departments to find efficiency savings instead.
Downing Street said reductions in staff were needed but the government would not be putting a specific number on it.
The plan has pledged to increase the NHS permanent workforce by almost a million by 2036/2037. It expects to see a rise from 1.4million to between 2.2 and 2.3million
The number of medical school training places will be doubled by 2031/32, taking the total number of places to 15,000. GP training places in England for junior doctors will also increase by 50 per cent to 6,000, the NHS’s workforce plan has pledged. Training for pharmacists will also rise by almost 50 per cent to around 5,000 places for 2031/32. Meanwhile, training for clinical psychology and child and adolescent psychotherapy will also be expanded, with places rising by more than a quarter to 1,300 by 2031
A DHSC spokesman said: ‘The Health and Social Care Secretary has been working with the department to successfully reduce costs and make sure that more money can be directed to front-line services.’
Craig Mackinlay, Conservative MP for South Thanet, said: ‘Taxpayers should always rejoice when the Civil Service staff is diminished.
‘Not only does it liberate skilled people into the private sector, into the productive sector of the economy, it also makes departments more lean, and in my view more effective.
‘Across many government departments, I often wonder what these ranks of people actually do beyond creating bureaucracy and aggravation for the public who pay tax for these services. Well done Steve Barclay.’
Meanwhile, Conservative MP for Dudley North, Marco Longhi, added: ‘This Government has invested in the NHS like no previous government.
‘We are now spending a gargantuan amount of money on our NHS, so much so that the NHS is now the biggest employer in Europe.
‘I think most people will be very pleased with this news, especially as we always seem short of doctors and nurses.
‘With this money being diverted to the front line, people can hopefully only experience better outcomes as they use this treasured service.’