GWENT NHS bosses are drawing up plans to trim £20 million from the health board pay bill during the next three years.

The aim, outlined in Aneurin Bevan Health Board’s medium term plan, is to reduce levels of variable pay – a big and current problem for the NHS.

“We will be seeking to avoid redundancies wherever possible by re-deploying and re-skilling existing staff, and ensuring all our services are as efficient as possible,” states the plan report.

Many services are being remodelled prior to the opening of the Specialist and Critical Care Centre in 2019. Voluntary early release schemes, and the suspension or restriction of recruitment, are among the measures that have been and are likely to be used to achieve the required reductions in staff, along with the ongoing bed reduction programme.

Around 240 beds are predicted to be closed in Gwent hospitals over the next six years – this is expected to save about £2 million in each of the next three years.

An electronic rostering system is predicted to deliver a variable pay reduction of £500,000 a year through more efficient compiling of staffing requirements.

The health board hopes to save £1.9 million a year by reducing the need for its nursing ‘bank’ due to the recruitment of more nurses to meet all-Wales staffing principles.

It has set itself the ambitious target of saving almost £10 million over three years by reducing sickness absence. Another £3.65 million of savings are predicted by the end of 2016-17 through reductions in management costs.