An extra 30,000 NHS jobs could be created next year using the £2bn additional funding announced in the government’s autumn statement earlier this month, the health secretary has claimed.
Jeremy Hunt said that part of the money – £1.7bn – would be eligible to secure additional posts for nurses, doctors and other healthcare staff from 2015-2016.
“But the kind of funding we’ve talked about, potentially, could fund up to 30,000 additional posts in the NHS next year”
The majority of the funding was not the result of a reallocation of existing cash, but had been newly agreed with the Treasury to deal with pressures in the NHS system, he said.
His comments came during a health select committee session in the Commons on Tuesday, where MPs questioned the minister on shortfalls in nursing numbers and the increasing reliance on agency staff within the NHS.
He said: “We don’t believe in targets for a number of new posts, because then people would measure themselves by an input and not an output – and the output has to be improved care or patients.
“But the kind of funding we’ve talked about, potentially, could fund up to 30,000 additional posts in the NHS next year,” he told MPs.
Mr Hunt acknowledged that the NHS was spending too much money on agency staff and stated it was “unhealthy” for some trusts to have become dependent on temporary workers.
“We’ve got into a situation where some staff had decided to become agency [workers] so they can get a higher salary than people on permanent contracts and that’s, in the end, not right for the NHS,” he added. Mr Hunt said that dealing with these issues were a “big priority”.
As part of the same session, NHE England chief executive Simon Stevens was questioned by MPS about the “alarming” decline in numbers of district nurses over the past decade.
When asked how some of the additional £2bn funding would be used to address this problem, Mr Stevens said he expected a portion of the money to be put towards developing some of the new care models laid out in his Five Year Forward View – the five-year plan for the NHS unveiled in October.
This would help to address the shortfall because some of the models advocated in the plan – such as the Multi Speciality Community Provider – advocated a stronger leadership role for nurses, he said.