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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)

  • 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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