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RCN says 27,000 posts are earmarked for cuts


The Royal College of Nursing claims nearly 27,000 NHS job have been earmarked to be cut in the UK - including 18,000 in England - which it warns risks endangering patient care.

The figure, including nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, support staff, clerical, housekeeping and other staff, came from members and plans published in board papers.

The college said the total was three times higher than the total they had arrived at in April.

Chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said the idea the NHS was being protected was “an urban myth, that simply isn’t the case”.

“We have established that what the Department of Health is being told and what the public is being told is often far removed from the evidence on the ground.

“Right now, staff are not only concerned about losing their jobs, thy are concerned about keeping services open. The mood suggests that it is two minutes to midnight for the NHS.”

The report, released today, listed South Central and East of England as the two regions in England losing the most posts, 3,997 and 3,804 respectively.

The report names 10 acute trusts as planning to cut more than 350 posts and says Hertfordshire could lose 884 nursing and midwifery posts across its two hospitals, mental health trust and community services.

It also reveals examples of waste identified by its members along with nurse-led innovations that save the service money.

Mr Carter said the RCN was being told of vacancy freezes and diluted skill mix and said: “We know all too well from examples such as Stafford Hospital that if you cut back staffing levels to the bare bones, patients suffer and can be put in danger.”

The latest inquiry into Mid Staffs, this time focusing on the role of regulators and external managers, is now in its fourth day.

In response to the report, director of the National Nursing Research Unit Professor Peter Griffiths said: “There is a lot of research linking registered nurse staffing levels to patient safety in acute settings. If that’s where jobs are going it would be a huge concern.

“While none of this, nor the Mid Staffs reports, can lead you to the conclusion that reducing staffing levels will necessarily impact upon patient safety it is certainly enough to establish that there is a risk. It needs to be monitored.”

Portsmouth Hospital confirmed that over the past year 200 of its 442 job losses were nursing and midwifery staff.

But other trusts losing more than 350 posts challenged the figures.

North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust claimed its post reductions had been planned since 2006 and were “not something we are doing in response to the current economic climate”.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust said the 600 reduction figure the RCN had used referred to temporary staff.

NHS chief executive David Nicholson said: “The accuracy of these figures is not guaranteed and we do not recognise the RCN’s figure.

“While it is for local trusts to determine their specific workforce needs, we have made it clear that efficiency savings must not impact adversely on patient care.

“The government is committed to the NHS - to sustain and to improve services in the face of a tough economic climate. And that is why the NHS received a real terms increase in funding.

“But even with this commitment, in order to meet demand and improve the quality of services, the NHS needs to make up to £20bn of efficiency savings by 2015.”


Readers' comments (19)

  • no surprise there. The snivelling bastards in the government will continue with this despite what any nurses say so unless we go down the demo route that the students took the other day, and even further with strikes (not just threats) then it WILL HAPPEN -be warned -stop just moaning about all this and DO SOMETHING.

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  • Hardly a surprise! £20Bn of "efficiency" savings were always going to eat into frontline services, whatever the political spin.

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  • this efficiency saving & protecting the nhs is the biggest load of government spin i have ever heard. When are we going to say we have had enough and do something?

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  • personally i have had enough and i'm making plans to leave nursing....there are other career opportunities within the private sector and it's time to explore them.

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  • The majority of the front line staff are most crucial and why hit them. Once again we will go down the West Stafford route, inadequate staffing leading to unsafe practise to patients dying with unintended consequences. Turn it around, why do we need so many ward and deputy sisters. Specialist nurses and matrons can have their skills diverted to senior staff nurses. Give the newly qualified jobs with a 6 month probation, given the option of refresher if performance is poor, same with new HCAs. These days quite a number of new staff who are sick within the first month. There should be a strict rule so that poor performance and bogus sickness is given a serious sacking consequence if there is no improvement. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

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  • Why is it always the front line staff that deliver patient care that are targeted when it comes to job cuts???? What about the chief exec's taking pay cuts or forgoing there bonuses etc, ward staff are already pulled out and short staffed as it is, cutting staff even more will mean patients won't even be getting basic care, let alone the care they deserve!!!!! Were now not even getting paid for our breaks and have to do a shift a month extra to pay back the break time we've had, and were told we have to have our breaks!!! Even if we don't have time because of work load or patients going for tests we have to stop what were doing and go for break!!!! So much for not compromising patient care! And then we have an extension built for extra wards that we don't need, so there are wards sat empty and then we have big massive electronic White boards on every ward, again that we don't need, yes they look nice but if your trying to save money why buy them???????after 13 years in the nhs I am now looking at changing careers, I went into nursing to give patient care to the highest standards possible, not just to give minimum basic care!!!

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  • I wondered why the front line are targeted. You know what, when you are new in a position with higher pay than you are ever received in life couple with popularity you might not understand the pain of the commons even if you believed or agreed to have some few pounds cuts from the new role is still make no difference. I hope the client and relatives can smell a rat and fight for their right. A tree cannot make a forest. And for the staff, when are we going to be bold afterall we also invest on ourselves.

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  • Well said everyone, get the so called managers out and let's strike as well

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  • I too, am not at all surprised at the government being underhand and 'stretching the truth' ( I am sure they would not call it lying.) At our hospital we had a great announcement that 5 'management type posts were going from the change team (not at all sure what they achieved anyway), and all the people would be absorbed into other vacant posts.) Oh, yes, I seem to know of twice that number that have been created all with spurious titles which you don't understand and heaven knows what they do. Nodoubt they will be paid less than previous equivalents but with nursing posts being 'frozen' or downgraded then it is so annoying as it is all spin. Well, as a CNS I know I will be targeted soon and that is from being stabbed in the back by other nurses!!! Thanks, folks. Just think the posts will not be there for you to apply for, when they are gone. Although very upset about my 30 year plus and wonderful career is being flushed down the bedban crusher, I do not agree that we should demonstrate like the students. I hope the person who wrote that did not mean resorting to violence. It hasn't worked and people have been arrested. You will lose your registration and won't be able to work anyway. (Well, I hope people would lose their registration for such appalling violence. Not a caring impression for a profession we are trying to image improve.)

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  • anon 7:56: Excatly the view take that our biased media took as well - forget the REAL reason why the stike took place and focus on the minimal amount of violence that actually occured - the entire crowd boo ed and cursed the man who dropped the fire extinguisher out of the window so it was not a supported act of violence for 99.9% of the crowd who were there voting and DOING something for their vioces to be heard to stick up for their rights - ; as someone else said in another forum - a million passive vioces protested against the vietnam war - that worked!

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  • Rather than make job cuts in nursing I think its about time the matrions rolled up their sleeves once or twice a week. This would give them an idea of what is going on in the wards and give support to the many ward sisters who are made up to a sisters post long before they are ready for such a challenging job. These matrons were bought in to support the wards and yet we see them so rarely as they spend most of their times in meetings, well what a suprise! Knew thats how it would be.

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  • With the expected huge loss of front line staff at whatever level, just who are the hordes of administrative and human resource personnel going to administer and manage?

    Will these people go out onto the wards themselves and ensure that patient safety and well being is maintained?

    Probably not but it will be interesting to see the ratio of care delivery jobs lost in comparison to those lost in non medical posts.

    After all hospitals were intended as sanctuaries for the relief of suffering and the unwell in our society in times of need, not as nice little earners for failed accountants, bureaucrats and IT installation companies.

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  • so many nurses grumble about their jobs, working conditions and standards of care but why don't they use some initiative instead of sitting back and letting the government do all the work and make all the decisions. We musn't lose our British sense of pride and let our standards fall.

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  • in our trust the last restructure saw more levels of managers WHY????? and in some cases jobs made up
    surely they need to be accountable we have a manger who neither answers emails, telephone messages or any form of communication, never feeds back, we as ateam find out 3rd 4th hand decisions that affect us this needs addressing staff morale is at a low now we are to have more cuts what will this to staff and patients who have little confidence in the NHS

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  • What, if anything are the RCN doing to influence this hideous situation?
    They should either get their facts right (if they are to be taken seriously bythe DoH) or pursue their claims.
    Weak and useless as usual.
    Please, please, everyone-consider your re-subscriptions.

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  • Re: Anonymous | 17-Nov-2010 11:05 am

    The RCN are gathering information from their Frontline First campaign to ensure that the voice of us nurses is heard as we are the ones with the information they need. Without evidenced arguments the battle is harder. RCN seem to be the only health organisation that IS being proactive and trying to protect their members.

    Instead of whinging anonymously why don't you go on their website and give them the ammunition they need to influence government.

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  • Anonymous | 17-Nov-2010 7:58 am

    its up to the front line workers to do something about it instead of always relying on others and then complaining about the situation.

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  • Please dont forget the NHS is a business, just the same as any other business out there. If the money gets tight, then the work force will go.
    Just because your a qualified nurse, does not entitle you to a job. You have to work hard and make yourself indispensable, then you stand a chance of keeping your job when times get tough.

    Be the great nurses you know you are. Never let that go.

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  • tinkerbell

    Have you's all checked out the 38 degrees website that are asking for help to get the truth out to the general public. We are on the inside and know what is happening but the general public don't so they need to know also. Check it out and then take some action to ensure that we at least try to save the NHS from being destroyed. Yes the NHS needs improvement in many areas but not at the cost of patient care.

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