Trusts plan to shed a “shocking” 12% of their registered nursing workforce over the next four years, a Royal College of Nursing investigation has found.
In a report published this week to coincide with the college’s annual congress, the RCN warns it has evidence that nearly 10,000 NHS posts in England will be axed by 2015.
The college said this represents just the “tip of the iceberg”, as managers seek to save £20bn from the health service budget.
It carried out a Freedom of Information Act request across a sample of 21 trusts, finding that they planned to cut a total of 9,650 posts, of which 4,429 were nursing positions – both qualified and unqualified.
On average, 12% of qualified nursing posts will be lost from the trusts’ nursing workforce, the report says.
The RCN requested information from a range of organisations, including acute trusts, mental health trusts and community providers, from across the country – though a third were located in London.
The report is an update of the Frontline First Interim Report, which was published in November to support the college’s campaign of the same name.
The initial document – based on workforce reduction figures available at the time – claimed to have identified 26,841 NHS posts at risk in the UK, of which 17,932 were in England.
In the last few months, the RCN said some NHS trusts have started to provide specific and detailed breakdowns of cuts to their workforce numbers – and it is on these that the updated figures are based.
RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “Cutting thousands of frontline doctors and nurses could have a catastrophic impact on patient safety and care. Our figures expose the myth that frontline staff and services are protected.”
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