NHS England is cutting 2,400 staff as it begins to axe funding for social care services in the wake of the data breach, with the announcement likely to reignite concerns about staffing levels.
The announcement follows a decision by the Department of Health (DH) to cut £3.5bn in funding for the NHS last year.
The money will be used to reduce its workforce by 2,200, with a further 300 jobs being eliminated.
The cuts come as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced a reduction of £2.6bn in the annual spending of the public sector.
It is the latest in a series of moves by the government to slash spending to try to keep its finances in balance amid a rise in the cost of living.
The DH cut the amount of money available to the NHS by a further £1bn last year, to £2bn, as the government prepares to leave the European Union.
The DWP is also cutting staff by 1,500, which includes 400 at the NHS Trusts, and by 600 at the Public Health Agency (PHA).
However, the cuts come at a time when NHS England faces a financial crisis, and is facing mounting pressure from public anger over the breach.
Last week the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSIC) said it received a flood of calls on its phone lines about the data hack from around the country.
It is understood that as a result of the hack, the government has cut its funding for health information and information technology services to the public, and that this has been reflected in cuts at the other health organisations that provide this information.
In the same week, the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that NHS England’s spending on social care, which covers the elderly, disabled and families with young children, has increased by £1.2bn since the start of the financial year.
It has also seen an increase in the number of patients who have to wait longer for care.
NHS England said it has now completed a detailed analysis of the breach and will be taking further action to ensure the data is not recovered.
Hospitals and other health providers will be able to access a new online system for NHS-funded social care information.
It will also have new tools to monitor patient progress, and help patients understand their carers’ services.
This is a step in the right direction and a very positive step forward for NHS England.
However, we will continue to review our resources, and will do everything we can to minimise disruption and avoid duplication, said a DH spokesman.
If the government continues to invest in social care and support, we believe that these will lead to a significant reduction in wait times, especially for older people.
But the cost to the health system is increasing, and as such, the public will need to shoulder more of the burden in order to avoid financial pressures.
While the DH has cut funding, it has said that it is not yet clear how many of the cuts will be reflected in the workforce.
We will not be able for now to say how many jobs will be cut, but it is clear that this will affect a large proportion of our workforce.
We are working closely with our NHS Trust partners to minimising disruption.
However the DH is not only looking to reduce staff numbers, but also the number and complexity of the tasks that the NHS performs.
One of the key questions to be answered is how to best support the health care workforce when it comes to accessing information about patients and other public health issues, such as influenza, coronavirus and other illnesses.
A DH spokesperson said the decision to cut staff would affect many different areas of the NHS, and there will be further guidance on how to make sure that information is kept up to date.
They said the DH was working closely and collaboratively with the NHS and other providers to ensure that services are provided in the most efficient way.
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