When the previous government outsourced some of the NHS’s back office services (e.g. patient records) to the private sector, the government believed it employed 1.3 million people in the NHS. After the private IT companies started collating the information that they needed to implement the new IT structures and systems they discovered that the NHS actually employed 1.5 million people.

That means that there were 200,000 people on the NHS payroll that hadn’t been accounted for. To put this in context, Tesco (the third largest food retailer in the world) employ 250,000 in the UK.

This goes some way to explaining why the NHS has become a financial black hole. Staff costs are by far the highest single cost in the NHS. How can accurate forecasts for patient services and future fiscal plans be made when the government doesn’t know how many people they employ?

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