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10,000 jobs threatened, says RCN


The RCN has said the NHS has identified 10,000 frontline jobs that will go in order to make financial savings.

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The RCN trawled trust board papers to find 9,973 jobs that have been earmarked for redundancy, vacancy freezes, natural wastage, downgrading of job roles, or ending the use of temporary and agency staff.

RCN general secretary Peter Carter said nurses understood that the NHS needed to make up to £20bn of efficiency savings by 2014, but he said the RCN data “exposed the myth” that frontline services will be protected as the NHS struggles to meet its financial challenges.

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“We believe the government when they say they want to protect NHS care,” he said.

“However, local NHS organisations appear to be adopting a slash and burn approach to jobs, which is shocking, and will have a disastrous effect not only on the quality of care provided but also on the range of treatments that are provided”.

The RCN found some trusts are reviewing their skill-mix so that non-registered staff will provide more care, and others are re-banding or down-banding nursing posts to achieve savings. It said there was a “trend” of trusts pledging not to cut frontline jobs as long as staff were flexible and willing to accept changes to working conditions.

Mr Carter said few trusts were consulting with staff on where jobs should go, or trying to make savings through clinical evidence-based reconfiguration of services.

“Frontline staff know where the efficiencies can be made and trusts should therefore engage with staff to ensure better care,” he said.

NHS Confederation acting chief executive Nigel Edwards said some trusts may decide not to fill posts or to reduce staff numbers to meet “constrained budgets”.

He called on trusts to be clear and open about how they will produce savings and manage staff numbers.

“All NHS organisations will be looking at how they can best manage their finances to continue delivering high quality patient care; the best ones will be ensuring this is done transparently and in consultation with staff,” he said.

The Patients Association said the Department of Health must ensure local NHS bodies do not jeopardise the availability of safe and high quality care for financial reasons.

Patients Association director Katherine Murphy said: “Whether they are hiding behind not replacing retiring nurses or freezing recruitment, the end result is the same-less staff to care for patients.”

The RCN has launched a Frontline First campaign calling on nurses to submit examples of where cuts are being made, or innovation introduced, in NHS frontline services.


Readers' comments (65)

  • This is absolutely shocking! What the hell are the RCN and Unison doing about this exactly? Apart from bending over and pandering to the government of course? We do not NEED trusts to be 'clear and open' or any more of this bullsh*t rhetoric! We need DEMANDS that frontline staff should not be affected by these cuts!

    A frontline first campaign? Don't make me laugh! Nurses have been submitting evidence of short staffing levels to them for years! What the hell have they done about it exactly?

    Heres a few examples for your 'evidence' Carter, how about Job freezes that have been in place for years, how about the countless qualified staff who cannot find a job in the NHS, how about almost every shift in every hospital being woefully understaffed, how about trusts hiring more unqualified HCA's to fill in the gaps rather than hiring qualified Nurses in a cynical move that will save money but endanger lives, do you really want me to go on?


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  • yers and years of waste, pathetic TARGETS for nothingness, repeated requests for the infromation. More managers for ???strange unidentifiable roles. The NHS HAS masses of wasted millions on quango's, target setters etc etc to decide/determine what the public and the workers all know is more frontline staff adequate training and resources and let those that do the job shape the way healthcare is delivered.

    Or as we usually do just say nowt do another 2 hours unpaid work, juggle patient care with too few staff and worry when the next cut is coming. Surely now is when we need to take some more proactive action!!!.

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  • We were told our jobs were at risk, then they changed their minds. Its so stressful its made me ill. Now I think after 28 years in the NHS I have had enough.
    District nursing has been dessimated, its the worst I have ever known it. We have just had our mileage rate cut too!
    I have no faith in the unions, they are weak.Next its our pensions. Mine won't be great as I was badly advised many years ago and stopped paying for a while. With the stress I doubt if I will make it to retirement age anyway!
    That is probably their plan anyway. Stress us to death so they don't have to pay any pension.

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  • All I can say is Thank God I dont nurse in UK anymore!
    Yet another major swipe and insult to nurses there.
    Well why dont you all just get your butts over to Australia/ Canada and leave the NHS and Government so sort it all out between themselves.Wouldnt that be fun? But then again, patient care would really suffer then.
    All I see on here is you taking the brunt of every stuff up going.
    And lets face it
    Your union does not exist as far as nurse support goes. You know we have had a few winges about our union here...minor stuff. But never again. Like I said before I am happy to pay ANF fees here. They fight for us.
    I am totally spun out at all the crap you are getting.

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  • I would love to know how much it costs in salaries of these high powered staff sitting around tables discussing how to make financial cuts and meet targets. Perhaps, if all these meetings were abolished, there would be a huge saving and no need for so many staff at that level either, and the NHS, therefore, would have no need to make cuts and would also meet their targets

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  • I keep on asking the same question over and over again and still everyone seems so suprised that these cuts are taking place. It was the previous governments policy to cut 30,000 hospital beds nationwide and nobody batted an eyelid. Now its happening at a hospital near you everyone is so suprised. The plan was to care for patients at home rather than in hospital. Remember 15/20 years ago when care in the community closed many mental health units in order to transfer care of mental health patients to the community. Care in the community is still trying to fill the gap with people in prison, general hospitals and police cells still waiting for beds in mental health units. The same is (supposed to be) happening now in general hospitals. But the primary care trusts are not providing care in the community. There are wholesale ward closures, nurse redundances, wards closing and opening as frequently as the sun rises and sets staffed by bank and agency staff, probably the same nurses who were sacked from the ward in the first place, but being paid (higher) agency rates. All this going on and we all act as though there is nothing we can do. And do nothing.

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  • Steve Williams

    Kudos mike. Spot on, I agree, totally apposite but don't forget that the RCN is actually NOT a Union, never was, never will be – it's a 'professional-body' albeit one that's DOA .

    It's still run by the predominantly female 'twin-set and pearl' brigade who really can't lower themselves to sully their hands with all that “standing up for working-class rights” m'larky. After all that Trade Union stuff is for people with a trade whereas nursing is a 'profession' or vocation... Nope they declined TUC affiliation some three decades ago – despite the anomaly of having representation on the Whitley Council (of the time.)

    The people who actually run the RCN safely ensconced in their self-appointed ivory towers in suburbia bear very little relation to the concept of what you or I would recognise as 'real' front-line nurses. It's many a year since they worked “on the floor” and, thanks to their generous salaries, are well insulated against any rule-changes the government-of-the-day may decide to wreak upon nursing per se.

    Alas, nurse don't actually have a union to stand up and protect them. They are stuck between the devil and the deep-blue sea. Nurses can either join the RCN, which is only interested in its own promotion and survival, or join UNISON and be lumped together with the NHS porters, dishwashers, telephonists etc (all very essential personnel but hardly 'professionals') and have their specialised issues stand in line with the rest of the lumpen proletariat demands.

    It's a shame there isn't a trades union run by nurses, for nurses, dealing solely with nursing issues. I'm sure it might be a good idea to have such a body. On the other hand, as you intimate, I truly believe that the majority of nurses are naïve, sanctimonious masochists who actually do prefer to take their nasty medicine per rectum.

    After all, as you've said before, if nurses actually wanted to get results - instead of continually bleating about how hard-done-by they are – all they have to do to make the NHS sit up and pay attention is 'work-to-rule' i.e. work strictly within the terms of their contracts... but then they'd have nothing to bitch about! :)

    Don't forget the majority of nurses are female – either young with no responsibilities, married and using the nursing salary as 'pin-money' for extras or returning to the job after many years away whilst raising a family and therefore grateful for any work they can get in the profession.

    It's just us “rude and genetically aggressive males” that have to make this a lifetime career who get our knickers in a knot about the derisory remuneration for our labours.

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  • In my organisation it is mooted that most of the managers and what I call 'hangers on' will lose their jobs. I say bring it on. There are not enough health visitors and nurses on the front line to give the patients and families the service they deserve, yet there are 'hangers on', who have developed the idea that their jobs are more important than the front line. There are jumped up clerical workers who now tell me what I should do, there are managers for 'critical incidents' who couldn't manage the proverbial, and there are IT workers who are so fond of their own importance it's just totally inreal. These workers are in fact my support staff, yet they somehow have evolved their role so they tell me what to do! As for the managers....... we don't need a band 8 telling us how to do the job, we know how to deliver care, thank you very much. Yes good riddance! We need front line staff not managers and hangers on!

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  • Anonymous | 8-Jul-2010 8:33 am, I agree with you, but the problem is they will not go after these support services, they will go after the weakest of the herd, the Nurses! Front line staff are always the first to get hit. I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous when you say it out loud, and it is, but it is true.

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  • how many managers, do nurses need to do their job. NHS needs frontline nurses. Most of the Manager post is a waste of money. You have layers of management team, who for once do not know what patient needs are. Alternatively reduce the numbers of the manager and create more staff nurses , who are ready to the do the job, that would make difference in the NHS as a whole

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