Department of Health criticised for recruitment drive just weeks after staff cuts

Move “treating public servants with contempt”, says Whitehall's biggest union

The Department of Health's headquarters at Richmond House. Photo: PA

By Richard Johnstone

23 Jun 2017

The Department of Health has been criticised by a civil service trade union for launching a recruitment drive just weeks after staff cuts that saw the ministry’s headcount fall by more than a quarter.

The Public and Commercial Services union said the department was currently recruiting for a range of roles – including as many as 40 policy posts based in London and Leeds – despite losing 460 full time equivalent staff over the three months to March.


This saw the department fall in size by 26% as it completed a programme to cut its workforce to around 1,300-1,400, according to the Institute for Government.

The department is advertising for 20 policy officers in both Leeds and London, which are being recruited in a bulk process and are described as being needed “following a recent downsizing and restructure”. The posts are at senior executive officer level and the salary is £34,696-£42,269 for the posts in Leeds and £38,301-£45,769 in London to work on health “policy issues that are vital to all of us”.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told Civil Service World that a recruitment round so soon after cuts represented a waste of government funds.

“Despite spending millions on redundancy packages, losing decades of experience and hollowing out the department leaving it unable to cope, the DH is now advertising for new staff,” he said.

“It is symbolic of the chaotic approach to public services under the Tories, where they cut first and consider what resources are needed after. As well as treating public servants with contempt, it’s a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Responding to the figures, DH spokesperson said the department had been resdesigned so it was fit for the future.

“The department recently undertook a redesign and subsequent restructure to make sure it’s best placed to meet current and future challenges. We are now recruiting into the new structure to ensure we have adequate resources with the right skill mix across the department.”

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