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Commons row over NHS nurse numbers


Falling nurse numbers demonstrate neither patients nor the NHS are safe under the coalition, Labour has claimed.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the number of nurses had dropped by more than 7,000 since May 2010 - and highlighted last week’s Care Quality Commission “State of Care” report during health questions in the Commons.

But health secretary Jeremy Hunt defended the government’s record, insisting the ratio of nurses to beds had improved - and said Labour would have cut health spending.

Mr Burnham said: “Last week official statistics revealed 7,134 nursing jobs have been lost under the coalition, almost 1,000 in the last month under your watch.

“The very next day the Care Quality Commission warned 16% of hospitals in England are not meeting the CQC standard for adequate staffing levels.

“Isn’t this prima facie evidence the NHS and patients are not safe in your hands?

“Will you urgently intervene to stop the job losses?”

Mr Hunt rebutted: “The reason the CQC made its shocking investigation into the state of care in our country is because this government introduced dignity and nutrition inspections, which never happened when you were secretary of state.

“You talked about numbers employed in the NHS, let’s look at them. There’s been a 2% decline in the number of nurses, yes. But an increase in the nurse to bed ratio.

“There’s been a 4% increase in the number of midwives, a 5% increase in the number of doctors and more than 50% increase in the number of health visitors, which went down when you were in office.

“And how much worse would those numbers have been if we had the cut in NHS funding you wanted?”


Readers' comments (10)

  • tinkerbell

    The King's Fund finally nails the Tory Lie on NHS Spending

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  • tinkerbell

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  • Where have the nurse to bed ratio improved? Two years ago I cared for 7 bed, now I have 9, on an elderly ward, where apparently caring for 9 patients is dangerous. Well done Mr Hunt youve done me a great service!

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  • I work at rotherham general hospital and my job is under threat along with another 749!

    yep jeremy hunt your so right, the nhs is safe in your hands..

    ever since this govt came into power they have on a daily basis ripped apart the nhs and made redundant thousands of hard working expirenced nurse's..all so their mates in the private sector can profit from ill people

    this govt are the lowest of the low
    as with any previous tory govts..they dont give a toss about the working class...after all why would they..cameron and osborne and the likes have been spoon fed since birth...they make me sick

    I could be out of a job in a few months...thanks a lot!!!

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  • tinkerbell

    mr hunt, i know you probably think we're all a bit daft, but don't try to blind us with stats, we are experiencing the cuts and demolition of services.

    Why deny the obvious?

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  • another tory ostrich. improved ratio - what planet is he on, 15 patients each where I work.

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  • tinkerbell

    but then is this the same jeremy hunt who denied any involvement in BskyB scandal? Maybe he's the master of denial and that's why he got his new job because a lot of things will need to be denied despite concrete evidence that they are happening.

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  • I would like to know how Mr. Hunt defines the word "nurse" (qualified, not qualified, overseas awaiting UK registration, non active Registration, which sort of Registration or not qualified just yet) for the stats.

    And how many hours these "nurses" actually work (could have a ward of 10 but if all only part time = big difference) - not to mention how experienced these "nurses" are in general and in that 'speciality' in particular etc

    "Statistics, damn statistics and lies"

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  • At the end of the day, the government gives the budget..they dont dictate how the budgets cut are to be made in individual hospitals....when will nurses get the fact it is the UPPER MANAGEMENT cutting the nurses on the floor, they could cut middle management and streamline processes, but they dont, they put more middle managers in post and cut floor nurses!

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  • Well, I general its a poor state of affairs no mater which political group is involved. Health visiting numbers have increased, but there is now concern in relation to provision of preceptership, and whether with long arm mentoring if newly qualified health visitors are able to undertake what they are asked to do without adequate support from experienced colleagues.

    I feel the 'we only provide what we are paid to provide' mentality as totally against my basic principles for joining the NHS. My colleagues locally appear to be at their lowest level of moral, which is strange for profession that is having an inflow of new staff, and increased investment.

    I agree with others comments about middle managers and so called clinical team leaders that appear to only undertake managerial responsibilities.

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