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RCN reveals South West nursing fall and steps up pay campaign

  • 7 Comments

The South West has seen more qualified nurses leave the NHS than any other part of England, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

The union revealed the region’s drop in numbers as it stepped up its campaign against moves by trusts in the region to attack pay growth and terms and conditions.

Most of the trusts in the region have formed the South West Pay, Term and Conditions Consortium, which is aiming to make significant changes outside of the Agenda for Change national framework.

According to RCN analysis, the proportion of qualified nurses working for the NHS in the South West fell by 3.5% between May 2010 and May 2012, compared to an English average of 1.2%. The data was provided by the NHS Information Centre.

Overall the NHS workforce in the South West fell by 2.2% compared to an English average of 2.1%.

The RCN said the consortium‘s plans to reduce pay, terms and conditions could “exacerbate” problems in the region, “encouraging experienced staff to leave and compromising the care of patients”.

The union said, in addition, the region has below the national average number of qualified nurses, midwives and health visitors relative to the size of its population. The RCN said that is despite it having the oldest population in England, suggesting it would need more nursing care. Almost 20% of people in the South West are aged over 65.

The RCN published the figures today as part of its Frontline First campaign against nursing cuts. It said it accepted the South West faced financial challenges, but said it should make savings in other areas - such as the cost of supplies, drug waste, and private finance initiative contracts – before staffing.

RCN chief executive Peter Carter said: “The bare facts are this is an area in which the NHS is already struggling under the weight of increased demand from patients and fewer staff to service that demand.

“There is a demoralised workforce under huge pressure to help some of the UK’s most vulnerable patients. This is an increasingly fragile health landscape which requires long-term solutions looking at service redesign rather than simple cost-cutting.”

Chris Bown, chair of the south west pay, terms and conditions consortium steering group, and chief executive of Poole Hospital Foundation Trust, said: “We do not accept that any introduction of revised pay, terms or conditions will be followed by a wholesale exodus of staff from the south west, or a decline in the high quality care our patients receive.

“The consortium believes that the financial and operational challenges ahead cannot be met fully by further efficiency savings or service reconfigurations alone, opportunities for which are becoming limited.”

  • 7 Comments

Readers' comments (7)

  • I work for one of the Trusts involved. Staff suggestions to reduce waste and generate income are consistently ignored. Large amounts of money are seen to be wasted on weekend initiative clinics when there are other solutions; locum and agency nurse use is spiralling because regular posts have been removed. Admin staff are constantly shuffled to the department with the longest typing queue. Peremptory bed closures are now being reversed as they are acknowledged to have been based on innaccurate figures. And cutting staff T&C's is seen as the FIRST option? I am mobile and along with many others, actively looking elsewhere. Skilled and motivated staff will do this. Those with family ties will remain, unhappily, as will the less motivated and less qualified staff. There is already a difficulty recruiting to specialist services in the area, with key posts vacant, neccessitating expensive locums. The costs resulting from this escapade, both monetary and in standards of care and staff engagement, will far outweigh the savings made by unilaterally varying peoples' contracts.

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  • get rid of chris brown, this will save a small fortune

    why is it these managers always target thier staff first, seen as easy targets instead of finding better solutions, seen as thay are paid so much to come up with idea's

    im afraid the staff down there need to stand up and be counted strike action if necessary

    and i believe this kind of attack on our pay and condtions will spread to other parts of the country especially if this cartel gets away with it!!!

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  • The reason why managers target front line staff first is to protect their own jobs. Its inevitable within the system. I am not in the southwest but we are seeing cuts in front line staff at a time when management are increasing in numbers and for their jobs to make sense they are creating work for an ever reducing number of front line staff. How typical that no one listened to the front line staff who had cost saving ideas. We are short of people but not short of people making work.

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  • I seem to remember there was a nationwide survey which I think was run by the RCN, although it could have been NT, asking nurses for cost saving ideas. What was done with the responses?

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  • michael stone

    Without decrying the role of managers, it is the staff who treat patients who are actually delivering the care (including other necessary staff like ward cleaners, etc).

    Here is an idea. Perhaps the total pay within something like a large trust hospital for all of the 'managers' who are above 'ward level', should have a maximum limit set as a multiplier of the pay of 'the staff involved directly with the patients'. Perhaps 'managers' would be allowed to earn, as a group, no more than (say) 15% of the pay that the nurses/doctors/HCAs/cleaners/porters etc earned as a group ?

    This is a dreamworld and it won't happen - but to me, it would make perfect sense ! It would also stop managers from growing their own ranks, and paying themselves 'performance bonuses', if they were at the same time reducing the numbers of nurses and doctors, etc.

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  • Andrew Kingsley

    The last paragraph of the piece with the Chris Brown quote is the key - this clearly expresses that the consortium are looking to reduce pay costs to balance the books - that means less staff to complete the existing work (not replacing staff when they leave to reduce headcount), or reducing staff because services will be cut (i.e making people redundant), or keeping all the staff but reducing everyone's wages and T&Cs - or there something that I am missing?

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  • MeThinks

    Andrew Kingsley | 11-Sep-2012 5:37 pm

    No, you are not missing anything.

    But managers must be prevented from claiming that reducing staff numbers definitely will not lessen the level of patient care and service provision - 'we will have to do less, because that is all we can afford' has the objective virtue of honesty. And the political disadvantage, of alerting the 'slow to catch on'.

    Similarly, the RCN should not fall back on 'the savings could be made elsewhere' if that looked unlikely to be true - a lot more transparency, please, so we can have an informed argument !

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