LEAKED National Health Service plans to cut millions of pounds in jobs and services have been slammed by political leaders and medical experts.

Yesterday(Wednesday), the Chronicle revealed the controversial plans, which show that a staggering £34m is planned to be slashed from the NHS’s workforce in Berkshire West, including Reading, and neighbouring counties.

Healthcare managers in 44 areas of the country were ordered to draw up cost-cutting strategies after recording awhopping £2.45 billion deficit.

Reading Borough Council accused the NHS of ignoring the role local authorities play in adult social care services and released the report, despite being asked not to.

It predicts a shortfall of £479m across the three counties by 2020 if the NHS does not tighten its financial belt. 

The report, which was sent to the NHS England for consideration, reads: “The proposals we are developing demonstrate how we can meet this figure through a combination of efficiency savings; delivering services in different and more cost effective ways; and tackling areas of current service provision.”

Reading Chronicle: A table within the document, seen by the Chronicle, shows a plan for £34m worth of savings in workforce.

It is understood that the proposed job cuts would mainly be administrative roles, and bosses vow to “identify opportunities to eliminate duplicative or unnecessary activity”.

Carol Munt, a top Health Service Journal leader, said NHS needs to focus on recruiting doctors and nurses.

She told the Chronicle: “The biggest problem the NHS has is finding staff. The report does not say whether they are going to put pressure on NHS England to get more people trained. There is a massive shortfall of staff in Reading because it’s such an expensive place to live.

“The other problem is the lack of public engagement and that has made the public sceptical of what is being said. The stupidity is they are aggravating that by producing a plan first and then putting it out.”

Reading Borough Council blasted the secretive plans, saying that cuts to the health service of this scale should be in the public domain.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, leader of the council, said: “It is absolutely essential that draft proposals of this magnitude are brought into the open, publicly discussed and given proper consideration, which is why we have taken the decision to publish the plans today, and give local people and patients the opportunity to see the NHS proposals and comment.”

The councillor rebuffed suggestions within the report that the NHS had worked with local authorities while drawing up the plans.

“From Reading’s perspective that is certainly not true,” she said.

Despite theswingeing cuts, Royal Berkshire Hospital is identified as one of the a vital service locations for the proposed area footprint.

The report suggestshowever a number of small practises in South Reading could be “merged”.

The report adds: “Our acute hospital services are provided from three main locations in Oxford, Aylesbury and Reading.”

Do you work for the NHS? The Chronicle would like to hear your views.

To view the report for yourself and to answer the council's survey visit www.reading.gov.uk/stp