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Plans for Royal Mail delivery cuts could risk patient safety, NHS leaders warn

NHS leaders have warned that Royal Mail’s plans to cut second-class deliveries to two days a week could risk patient safety.

The changes are part of wider measures announced by Royal Mail’s parent company, International Distributions Services (IDS), including cuts of up to 9,000 routes, which could take more than two years to implement, saving £300m a year. IDS has assured the Royal Mail workforce that there will be no compulsory redundancies and they will request only 100 voluntary redundancies.

In a letter sent to the Telegraph, executives from the NHS, Healthwatch England, the Patients Association and National Voices said the Royal Mail proposals would increase the cost of missed appointments, which already exceeds £1bn.

The letter said: “Provisional Healthwatch data suggest that more than 2 million people may have missed medical appointments in 2022-23 due to late delivery of letters, and this will only deteriorate under the proposed new plans.”

Sir Julian Hartley, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said the proposed delays were “extremely unhelpful”.

“It’s really important that patients be updated at the earliest opportunity on developments in their care and treatment,” he said.

“An efficient, punctual postal service remains a key part of that process. At a time when far too many patients already face long delays – the last thing any trust leader wants – anything that adds to that uncertainty, and possibly the worsening of conditions, would be extremely unhelpful.”

Jacob Lant, the chief executive of health charity National Voices, said: “The proposals being consulted on risk further delaying vital communications and worsening digital exclusion, therefore unfairly widening health inequalities. NHS mail must remain a priority service.”

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Source: The Guardian, 6 April 2024


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