RCN: NHS heading for crisis point as job losses mount

Published on Monday, 21 November 2011 09:40
Posted by Scott Buckler

The Royal College of Nursing has warned that the NHS is heading for crisis point with, with 56,058 NHS positions across the UK due to be cut

In England, the pace of post cuts has risen by more than 50 per cent with 48,029 NHS posts set to be cut or already lost since the RCN began tracking post losses in April 2010. Just seven months ago, the figure was 30,873.

An RCN analysis of 41 trusts in England revealed that clinical posts make up almost half of the total workforce cuts with nursing posts accounting for more than a third of the posts earmarked to be cut.

RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter described the new figures as ‘deeply worrying’.

Cutting staff numbers by up to a quarter and axing a third of nursing posts will undoubtedly have a deep and potentially dangerous impact on patient care,” he said. “There is clear evidence that the quality of care and patient safety is improved when you have the right numbers and skills in place on wards. Staffing levels should be based on rigorous clinical evidence and should not be arbitrarily lowered in a short-sighted effort to save money. We are currently working with Peers to table amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill to ensure mandatory safe staffing levels.”

The RCN report has also uncovered a number of trends including downbanding - when registered nurses are replaced with nurses of a lower band or unregistered nursing assistants; cuts to preventative services, to the community sector, and to mental health services. In addition, many NHS organisations are now attempting to move away from nationally agreed pay and conditions in attempts to meet their savings targets.

The RCN has always accepted that savings need to be made in the NHS, but says that cutting frontline staff and services that vulnerable patients rely on is not the way to do it.


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