NHS to lose 50,000 jobs, trade unions say

Published on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 09:32
Posted by Scott Buckler

More than 50,000 NHS jobs will be lost because of government spending cuts, a new anti-cuts campaign group says

 

Trades Union Congress-backed False Economy said its study showed that NHS trusts were planning to cut 53,000 staff over the next five years - more than double previous union estimates.

It used replies to freedom of information requests to produce its picture of cuts across the UK. But the government has accused the unions of "scaremongering".

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We promised to reduce NHS bureaucracy and plough this money straight back into patient care, and that is exactly what we are delivering.Since last May, there are almost 2,500 more doctors, more nurses and more midwives - and 2,000 fewer managers."

However, shadow health secretary John Healey said the figures called into question the Tories' handling of the health service. Putting NHS jobs cuts into perspective is tricky. Headlines saying 'thousands of jobs to go' make worrying reading.

But the NHS is the third largest employer in the world. It has a workforce of 1.4m people in the UK - just over 1m of which work in England. In the past decade there has been a huge rise in the numbers employed. Clinical staff alone have risen by a third since 1999, according to latest NHS figures.

But even if all the jobs being reported did go it would not even take the NHS back to what the staffing levels were just a few years ago. During 2009 the workforce grew by 60,000 alone.

What should also be remembered is that some of the job cuts will be in management and admin areas. The government in England has said it wants to nearly halve spending on these in the coming years, something that was welcomed at the time.

It is also likely new jobs will be created in the community as care moves away from hospitals under the creation of GP consortia.

Nonetheless, the NHS is still facing a tough period. While the budget is being protected, it is still being asked to make unprecedented savings. Only time will tell what effect these will have on the front-line.

Mr Healey said: "The government is piling extra pressure on the NHS with its huge, high-cost reorganisation and by breaking the prime minister's pledge to give the NHS a real rise in funding next year.

"David Cameron promised to protect the NHS but cuts on this scale will hit patient care, and there's a big risk that we will now see the NHS go backwards."

Source: ©BBC News

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