Exclusive: London hospitals could be run with 2,700 less nurses if they were more efficient, confidential research obtained by Nursing Times claims.
As revealed earlier this month, details of cost saving predictions from an efficiency review by strategic health authority NHS London have concluded that £421m could be saved from London’s £1.27bn nursing bill.
New papers obtained by Nursing Times via freedom of information requests spell out for the first time the repercussions of the research in potential reductions in nurse posts.
The analysis carried out by the SHA last year on 18 hospital trusts concluded that 2,700 whole-time equivalent posts could be dropped if they operated at the same staffing levels as other, more efficient trusts in the capital.
This amounts to 9% of the trusts’ total 32,000 nursing workforce, the document states.
A report on the research attempted to justify the reductions by saying there was “no clear evidence that investment in simply increasing the number of nurses as the mechanism to increase the quality of nursing care is a guarantee of good patient care”.
It stated: “Other factors, such as ways of working, may be more important than resourcing levels and, whilst some individual clinical areas will undoubtedly require more resource (including increasing the numbers working in those areas), efficiency improvements will enable others to deliver improved quality with fewer staff.”
However, this contradicts previous analysis by Nursing Times showing the more registered nurses a trust employed per bed the fewer of its patients were likely to die or experience long hospital stays.
A study published last year by the New England Journal of Medicine also found mortality rates were significantly affected by nurse numbers on a ward.
An NHS London spokeswoman stressed the numbers did not represent a target or plan for reductions.
She said: “We have no plans that detail how the benchmarked productivity savings could be realised, as this was a task for individual trusts to complete as part of their own productivity programmes, taking into account their own circumstances and clinically-agreed savings plans.”