Half a million NHS jobs could be slashed in plans by Theresa May's former policy chief

GettyPrime Minister Theresa May.
  • An influential Conservative MP who used to work for Theresa May is pushing plans for nearly one million public sector jobs to be automated by 2030, including nearly 500,000 jobs in the NHS.
  • George Freeman told a Taxpayers’ Alliance fringe at Conservative conference that “automating” the NHS would save £12 billion a year.
  • The Employment Minister Alok Sharma said jobs would be moved from the public to private sector.
  • Labour accuses the Tories of putting patient safety at risk

LONDON – Almost a million public sector jobs, including half a million jobs in the NHS, could be slashed as part of a plan being pushed by the prime minister’s former policy chief.

The Conservative MP and former health minister, George Freeman, told Business Insider that he would like to see hundreds of thousands of jobs in the NHS and wider public sector “automated” through greater use of technology.

Speaking at an event at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Freeman backed calls by the Taxpayers’ Alliance for hundreds of thousands of jobs across the public sector to be cut over the next 12 years.

Freeman, who was the chair of Prime Minister May’s policy board until November last year, said he would like to see “850,000 jobs [automated] by 2030 over the public services and in health…. about half a million.”

He said that automating the NHS would save about £12 billion a year, which he insisted could be reinvested in care.

George FreemanYouTube/Conservatives INGeorge Freeman MP.

Taxpayers’ Alliance chairman Andrew Allum told the meeting that the job losses would be a “win” for sacked public sector workers because they would be freed from doing “mundane” jobs.

“This would be a win for people who were previously doing somewhat mundane jobs,” Allum said.

“They might not still have a job with the council or the Department for Work and Pensions, or whatever, but there are better jobs.”

He insisted that while previous job cuts implemented by the Conservative government had led to workers being forced onto benefits, most had come off “within a few weeks.”

He was joined by employment minister Alok Sharma, who told the event that in future there would be more jobs overall, even if there were fewer in the public sector.

“There will be more jobs but it’s about where will they be based,” he said.

Labour said the cuts would put patient safety at risk.

“This Government should be offering support to the brilliant staff of the NHS, not threatening to replace them with robots,” Justin Madders, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, told BI.

“This rush for low cost NHS tech solutions at the expense of trained staff is a real threat to patient safety.

“The Tories can’t even get an app to work for their own conference and with the NHS apparently being the last organisation in the world to rely on faxes and pagers after years of budget cuts the idea that they’re going to invest in safe NHS technology is laughable.”

Listen to George Freeman say half a million NHS jobs could be cut

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