The seemingly unrelenting news about job cuts continued apace today, with a possible 36,000 nursing positions due for the axe in the NHS and potentially as many as 299,000 permanent posts to go at IBM worldwide.
A survey of 26 of England’s 168 NHS Trusts by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found that 5,600 jobs were already earmarked for the chop in a bid to cut spending by £20 billion over the next three years.
But the figure could rise to a “worst case scenario” of 36,000 if such a trend were replicated across the rest of the country, according to the RCN. Such job losses are likely to come from redundancies and personnel not being replaced if they leave or retire.
Peter Carter, head of the RCN, described such large cuts in staffing levels as “disastrous” in a BBC television interview, saying that he feared such a situation would affect the quality of patient care.
“There are obviously efficiency savings which can be made, but it is pie in the sky to think that the £20 billion figure can be achieved through better productivity alone,” Carter added. “The politicians have good intentions, but about 3,000 nurses a month retire so what happens is these posts are not filled. It does not need redundancies to reduce headcount.”
Elsewhere, it came to light that IBM was considering cutting three quarters of its 399,000 permanent staff over the next seven years, although the IT vendor said it would rehire them as contractors to undertake projects on an ad hoc basis in a strategy dubbed ‘crowd-sourcing’.
The move would form part of the firm’s HR transformation programme, which is due to be completed in 2017, and would see its permanent workforce reduced to 100,000.
Tim Ringo, head of IBM Human Capital Management, the company’s consultancy arm, told Personnel Today: “There would be no buildings costs, no pensions and no healthcare costs, making huge savings.”
Both the public and private sector are increasingly exploring the new contracting model, which originates from the US, as they look to cut people costs in a post-recessionary world – despite the huge management task that such a proposition is likely to present to HR managers.
The aim is to improve the ratio of how much revenue per employee organisations can generate each quarter, not least as they attempt to compete against emerging low cost economies such as China and India.
However the plan was rubbished by an IBM spokeman who said: "The comments are without merit. This was pure speculation about future job movements without any basis in fact. In fact, the comments run counter to IBM’s history of growing its global workforce over each of the last eight years."