NHS Digital spends £11m on staff terminations under Org2 restructure

NHS Digital has spent more than £11m in staff termination costs under its Org2 restructure.

The organisation’s latest financial report shows that it spent a total of £11.2 on staff termination packages in 2018-2019.

This payout included 180 “compulsory redundancies” made under Wave 1 of the restructure, which began at the end of last year.

This compares to £659,000 NHS Digital spent on termination packages in 2017-2018.

NHS Digital’s accounts show that 22 members off staff received termination payouts of between £100,000 and £150,000, while two received packages worth between £150,000 and £200,000.

In total, NHS Digital saw 428 employees leave the organisation in 2018-2019. Its overall headcount fell by 304.

Org2 represents a substantial shake-up of NHS Digital’s current workforce, which aims to address a shortage of technical expertise in emerging fields like cyber security, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The restructure – which follows criticism of NHS Digital’s delivery capabilities – means that hundreds of employees in more traditional programming roles face losing their jobs.

It is understood that NHS Digital plans to cut its headcount by at least 500, based on comments made by health secretary Matthew Hancock in November 2018.

A spokesperson told Digital Health News that it expected to have reduced headcount to 2,500 by the completion of the restructure, due in 2021.

“The restructure that we are currently undergoing involves three phases, of which the first is complete,” they said.

“This first phase included the senior roles within the business and the closure of a number of regional offices, the latter of which presented limited opportunity for suitable alternative employment.”

The spokesperson said NHS Digital was “unable to be specific about expected termination costs or headcount reductions in 2019-20,” adding that it had “a responsibility to identify opportunities for suitable alternative employment where possible.”

Staff at risk of redundancy in future phases may apply for other roles within NHS Digital up until their last working day with the organisation, they added.

Since the announcement of NHS Digital’s restructure, the new NHSX unit has been made responsible for delivering digital transformation to NHS organisations.

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