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NHS boss says nursing directors must back cuts


The NHS chief executive is tying nursing directors to controversial staff cuts by saying they must sign all such savings plans.

The demand from Sir David Nicholson last week follows many hospital trusts announcing plans for significant post reductions, including of nursing staff. The Royal College of Nursing has said it has identified plans for nearly 40,000 post cuts, and as many as half may be clinical.

Many hospital trusts are preparing for their funding to stand still or fall while costs rise.

In a letter to all NHS chief executives Sir David suggested the Department of Health had limited the need for staff cuts with the national pay freeze for most employees, and focusing on reducing sickness absense through improved health and wellbeing.

He added: “Where significant staffing changes occur, we expect plans to be agreed with medical and nursing directors, as well as workforce and finance directors, to assure the resilience of quality and safety.”

It follows high profile cases of failure like Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust where it has been suggested major cost and staff cuts led to appalling treatment of patients.

Dartford and Gravesham Trust nursing director Jenny Kay said: “I would think it unimaginable that any trust board would make a decision to reduce clinical posts without the full involvement of their medical and nursing directors.

“Any such plans must be based on real evidence of changing pathways or clinical developments. We do have to accept that the NHS is changing - in future there will be less care provided in hospitals, more care in the community.

“The NHS will also have to show that it is offering cost effective services. So it is inevitable that workforce changes will be needed, but these must be supported by clinical rationale and support.”


Readers' comments (16)

  • How glad I am that I'm out of all this now! OK - cut nursing numbers but with the equivalent cut in service to match so that patient/nurse ratios remain the same...or better. But cuts in numbers with no reduction in service...just take a look at what happpened at MId Staffs and NEVER forget.

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  • Dear Nurses,

    Please find enclosed a copy of your P45 as you have failed to prove that you can look after 40 patients on your own to the high standard of care we have come to expect under this government. I am grateful for all your support whilst we froze your pay rise, but as you would not allow me to freeze you increments I am afraid that you need to be sacked. Fear not though, I will still have my £200,000 job because I am prepared to dismiss all the nurses who have had one day or more off sick in the past five years.

    If you have any complaints regarding this matter please follow the governments approved complaints policy and bypass your unions as they don't wish to get involved.

    Yours Sincerely

    Sir David Nicholson

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  • Dear David Nicholson Impersonator,
    By all means follow the government approved complaints policy and bypass your unions. If they are as good as the NHS complaints process for patients you may as well write everything down on petal soft paper and bung it down the loo.
    Not Sir David Nicholson

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  • I think that was their point not Sir David person. Only guessing though as they may think that the government one does work, just like the NHS one

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  • Oh you expect these plans to be agreed do you Nicholson? Regardless of our opinion or anyone else's for that matter? What a joke! You can stick them right up your proverbial, and if any of our 'leaders' sign up to this then they should be hung as traitors! Our profession has finally shown a willingness to Strike! It is about time our unions balloted us on an all out strike right now to show them that we simply will not accept proposals like this!!!

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  • Of course he says that, keeps him in a job ... puppet!!

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  • Dear me,
    Lucky person (first commentator), being out of nursing. It is the worst time for nursing I can remember in my career. Nursing has been going down the toilet (that is if anyone bothers to take us), for the past 15 years. Poor practise and back to tasks not caring and now instead of improved professionalism we are now degraded to the same value as porters and cleaners. Sadly, nursing has also allowed this to happen with agenda for change instead of pushing for separate professional pay scales. As one of the hated CNS's I am appalled at the poor care on the wards (yes, I have to work on the wards so I can't get my own work done). the lack of knowledge about basic things (forget anything specialist which I strive relentlessly to educate about), and lack of interest and rudeness and roughness with patients. I presume these kinds of nurses don't recognise that they might be on the receiving end of this care. The good nurses are swamped by the poor standards of others and have to work even harder to care for patients and relatives. Sad state of affairs and the fault of educators and poor nurse managers (probably went into management because they could not cut the mustard on the wards/ community). Everything this Government says is hogwash. They have and are making stupid decisions and even if they now realise it they will stick to their guns and bring the changes in, just to save face. It will come back to haunt them but presumably they will all just be able to get fat cat jobs and private health insurance. The rest of the country will be the ones who suffer. Please reconsider. Ask the people who work in the NHS what to do (not high up, out of touch people), and let's get the NHS back to the hey day and fulfill the original principles of health care. Put things in place (improving health to prevent disease), first before cutting the services we still need to deal with the ill health. Then streamline it when the health of the nation is better. It will take decades of slow change not rapid cuts.

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  • Dear anonymous CNS, I had to laugh at your "manager bashing". For a CNS to suggest that a nurse would "move into management because they could not cut the mustard on the wards" is hypocrisy in the extreme. I know mabny CNS who openly admit they took up the post because they did not want the pressure of working on a ward, whereas mangement brings far more pressure I can assure you. When will we all start sticking together? You are obviously one pof the many who want to point score against fellow colleagues instead of rallying against the true enemy, the government.

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  • Ok, lost it here I am afraid to say. I need a bit of a reminder. What does CNS mean today folks?

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  • Clinical Nurse Specialist anon :)

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