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'Short-term' rise in nurses to be followed by more cuts, says Monitor

  • 17 Comments

Thousands of nursing posts are set to be axed by NHS foundation trusts over the next three years despite fears over short-staffed wards and quality of care.

Overall, there will be brutal reductions of around 30,000 WTE staff during the 2014-16 period, primarily in nursing, according to the review.

The latest figures on nurse reductions have emerged in the annual review of foundation trust plans by regulatory body Monitor, which were published today (see box below).

The review shows that FTs reduced their whole time equivalent (WTE) nurse numbers by 4% during the last financial year 2012-13, which ended in March.

During the current financial year they plan to recruit an extra 4,133 nurses, a 2% increase. But the rise is seen largely as a “short-term fix” and will be followed by a further 4% cut in nurses across 2014-15 and 2015-16.

This is despite predictions by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence of a potential nursing shortage. It believes the NHS is likely to have 47,500 fewer nurses than it needs by 2016, as revealed by Nursing Times.

Monitor said the 145 foundation trusts in the NHS planned to spend £500m in 2013-14 to increase clinical staff.

They are seeking to recruit 4,133 nurses, 1,134 permanent consultants and 1,273 junior doctors this year with the remaining 3,400 made up of healthcare assistants, paramedics, social care and theatre staff.

Trusts will also off-set the cost of this recruitment by imposing a 39% cut in the use of bank and agency staff this year.

But Monitor said the plans suggested the investment was a “short term fix” to deal with “operational pressures” and the fallout from the Francis report and last week’s Keogh review, which drew links between staff shortages and higher than expected mortality rates at 14 trusts.

In the following years, cuts to nursing posts will form part of each organisation’s attempts to make savings through cost improvement programmes.

Monitor has warned traditional sources of savings are “nearing exhaustion”, with “limited evidence of transformational schemes” needed to reduce demand on acute services.

It will be an increasingly uphill struggle for foundation trusts to meet their efficiency savings targets, as one-off savings such as cuts in management costs and pay freezes lose their effect, Monitor said.

Last year savings were 21% lower than planned and Monitor says foundation trusts are now revising down their future expectations.

The overall reduction in clinical staff over the next three years forms the basis for foundation trusts predicting a 6.4% recovery in profitability by 2015-16.

Royal College of Nursing policy director Howard Catton described the foundation trust’s plans as a “classic example of boom and bust, yo-yo approach to workforce planning”.

“We have to move away from this, it’s not sustainable for the future,” he warned. The Francis and Keogh reports crossed the Rubicon in terms of making nursing cuts a patient safety issue.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said there was often a small drop in workforce figures in April as fixed-term contracts came to an end.

She said: “There are over 5,500 more clinical staff in the NHS since May 2010, while the number of admin staff, managers and senior managers has fallen by nearly 21,500.”

 

Extract from Monitor annual plan review (page 10):

  • The total number of WTE is planned to increase by 2% in Year 1 via net increases in consultants (3%), junior doctors (4%), and nurses and midwives (2%).
  • This investment in clinical workforce, and particularly senior leaders, is likely to be driven by the Francis report, addressing shortfalls in A&E capacity and Royal College Guidance on 24/7 working.
  • By contrast, across 2014/15-15/16 there is a planned disinvestment, largely through reductions in nursing numbers (4%).
  • This suggests that the previous years investment is seen as a short term fix for operational pressures.

 

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  • 17 Comments

Readers' comments (17)

  • tinkerbell

    Abandon hope all ye who enter here. They've had their wicked way and destroyed OUR NHS and are just putting the final boot in. What a wicked thing to do to our society.

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  • It is unfortunate that this story only looks at one aspect of the healthcare system. Having moved from the NHS after 35 years into the the Independent (charity) healthcare sector and responding to the changes to commissioning of care we are recruiting a significant numbers of Nurses and Healthcare Assistants (not only from the NHS) to new models of care. So, don't abandon all hope - look outwards for new, challenging and responsive roles in delivering nursing care.

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  • tinkerbell

    Robert
    challenging, yes I can do challenging. Responsive tick. Look outwards, yes I have worked in the private and charitable health care sector.

    Given the level of education invested in you and the evidence thus far, shame on you. 3 bn plus wasted on a massive re-disorganisation that has claimed and will continue to claim lives. Fix what is broken first without this extravagant waste of money that could have been used to increase the nursing/doctor workforce.

    Do more with less. Only works in homeopathic remedies if at all.

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  • It is unfortunate that this story only looks at one aspect of the healthcare system. Having moved from the NHS after 35 years into the the Independent (charity) healthcare sector and responding to the changes to commissioning of care we are recruiting a significant numbers of Nurses and Healthcare Assistants (not only from the NHS) to new models of care. So, don't abandon all hope - look outwards for new, challenging and responsive roles in delivering nursing care.

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  • Remember this when you are voting in 2015.

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  • Unfortunately it won't matter who you vote for. It's a done deal, the parasites are already eating into the system. In fact, if you are going to vote, vote raving looney or something. I would not bother with labour, they are no better than the Tories.

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  • Am I being silly?
    Can someone explain all this to me?

    On one hand Keogh says hospitals are understaffed and he told the worst trusts that they need more nurses and here we learn trusts are cutting back.

    If this happens and nurses are cut, won't we be back in the situation that led to the Keogh Report in the first place?

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  • A "Director of Nursing" near you is plotting a plan to make you redundant and patients suffer !

    These people disgust me they have no concern for patients and no regard for the clinical nurses who have to live with the results of these crazy plans,

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  • people are having more and more pressure put on them to work harder and faster which does not allow them to do their job adequately or check and control thoroughly what has to be done and what has not been done. this is detrimental to their own level of fitness, health and mental and physical functioning which can have distrous consequences. the recent and even more spectacular (than losing patients in health care through errors and negligence) spate of air and train disasters should be a dire warning.

    obviously if supply outstrips demand which may be for economic reasons then there needs to be a very serious reconsideration of strategies and the way forward.

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  • Roll on retirement! I hope to god I don't get ill in the future as there won't be anyone left to keep me alive. It is a totally shit situation.

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