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Scrapping health bill could save 6,000 nursing posts, says Labour

  • 27 Comments

Money earmarked for the costs of reorganising the NHS could pay to prevent the loss of 6,000 nursing posts, Labour claims.

Labour leader Ed Miliband will use the figure to renew pressure on the government to drop its controversial shake-up after warning there were just three months to save the NHS.

According to the opposition’s calculations, more than 3,500 nursing posts have been lost since the government came to power and another 2,500 are under threat.

The £1.7bn set aside to pay for the changes in the Health and Social Care Bill would more than pay for the £748m cost of protecting all of those jobs, it believes.

Mr Miliband will use a visit to a Kent hospital to step up his campaign against the bill.

He is expected to say: “In tough times and with little money around, the very first priority should be to protect the frontline NHS.

“Instead we have a government blowing a vast amount of money on a damaging top-down reorganisation at the same time as it is cutting thousands of nurses.

“Labour’s priority is protecting the front line, not a pointless and damaging reorganisation of the NHS.

“So we are calling for the bill to be scrapped, and for some of the money set aside to fund this reorganisation to instead be made available to the NHS to protect the thousands of nursing posts either already cut or set to be cut in the coming years.

“It is a clear and simple choice for the government: by stopping this damaging reorganisation we can fund 6,000 nurses.

“In opposition David Cameron told people he could be trusted to protect the NHS. In government he has put Tory free-market ideology ahead of basic patient care.”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham added: “In just over 18 months in government, the coalition has taken a successful and confident NHS and turned it into an organisation that’s demoralised, destabilised and fearful of the future.”

The bill is due to return to the House of Lords this week for further debate.

Mr Miliband said it opened the health service to a “free market free-for-all” that would put the principles of the NHS at risk.

“It is not too late to stop this bill. We have three months to prevent great harm being done to the NHS,” he wrote in The Observer.

“Now is the time for people of all parties and of none, the professions, the patients and now peers in the House of Lords to work together to try to stop this Bill.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter said: “Our Frontline First campaign has already identified over 48,000 NHS posts at risk in England alone.

“These figures are further evidence, if it were needed, that the extensive NHS reorganisation set out in the Health and Social Care Bill is a costly distraction from the major challenges faced by the NHS. The turmoil of stopping the Bill is outweighed by the turmoil of allowing it to continue, and we would urge peers to vote against the Bill when it is put before them again this week.”

But health minister Anne Milton said: “Labour’s accusations are wrong on all counts.

“Since the election we’ve cut admin staff by 15,000 and the total number of clinical staff has remained the same.

“If we were not proceeding with modernisation in the NHS, by the end of this Parliament there would be £1.5 billion not available to support services and frontline staff.

“Stopping the reforms now would mean cutting nursing posts. The shape of staffing in the NHS is changing and the increase in doctors and therapists relative to nurses reflects that.

“But nursing numbers continue to be at highest-ever levels in areas where they are needed. The ratio of nurses to the number of acute beds in hospital has improved significantly over the last 18 months.”

  • 27 Comments

Readers' comments (27)

  • John Howes

    Scrapping the bill could save 6000 nursing posts!! This is the asinine world of political soundbite statistics, we could build x number of hospitals etc., etc. In 1974 I had been nursing for 11 years, the Tories back then had made 'absolutely unchangeable inroads into the destruction of the NHS' Each change of government has whittled away the principle of patients first and free at the point of delivery. It's a bit late for Labour to wax lyrical when you consider what occurred on the 13 years of their watch.

    We all know by now that most politicians are hypocritical self serving pigs! were they not we wouldn't be trying to secure our pensions and a future pay rise whilst they inflate theirs and enjoy expenses that make our £11 evening meal allowance away from home look like a mean tip on one of their meal allowances. We might also consider the lifestyles enjoyed by our Union leaders paid for by our subscriptions. Truly, gravity is a myth, the world sucks.

    We should save some of our contempt for the 'leaders' from all areas who have led us to the unholy mess that is today. After 49 years in nursing I have finally pulled e plug, the only downside of retirement is the thought that I might end up in hospital, a thought that might cause me lack of sleep.

    One of nursings greatest leaders, Trevor Clay once said that "nurses have always been politically aware, it is their misfortune as a profession that they have never acquired political astuteness" Never more true than today.

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  • surely the health, safety and lives of British citizens should be above politics. all this seems to be doing is making everything Kaputt. If politicians must be involved why can they not all work together regardless of political beliefs and party to build a strong and effective system and a healthy, motivated and productive nation instead of merely considering the NHS a drain on the country's financial resources and a potential cash cow. they are causing the greatest concern and anxiety and doing untold damage to the lives, health, well being and welfare of patients and staff alike and the media seem to be making matters far worse with their sensationalist headlines and reports which just act to stir things up without an ability to correctly inform the nation.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 7-Feb-2012 11:32 am

    The voice of reason, well said.

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  • John Howes

    Scrapping the bill could save 6000 nursing posts!! This is the asinine world of political soundbite statistics, we could build x number of hospitals etc., etc. In 1974 I had been nursing for 11 years, the Tories back then had made 'absolutely unchangeable inroads into the destruction of the NHS' Each change of government has whittled away the principle of patients first and free at the point of delivery. It's a bit late for Labour to wax lyrical when you consider what occurred on the 13 years of their watch.

    We all know by now that most politicians are hypocritical self serving pigs! were they not we wouldn't be trying to secure our pensions and a future pay rise whilst they inflate theirs and enjoy expenses that make our £11 evening meal allowance away from home look like a mean tip on one of their meal allowances. We might also consider the lifestyles enjoyed by our Union leaders paid for by our subscriptions. Truly, gravity is a myth, the world sucks.

    We should save some of our contempt for the 'leaders' from all areas who have led us to the unholy mess that is today. After 49 years in nursing I have finally pulled e plug, the only downside of retirement is the thought that I might end up in hospital, a thought that might cause me lack of sleep.

    One of nursings greatest leaders, Trevor Clay once said that "nurses have always been politically aware, it is their misfortune as a profession that they have never acquired political astuteness" Never more true than today.

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  • tinkerbell | 7-Feb-2012 12:00 pm

    sadly it is only a very tiny, thin voice which not many will listen to as there is no money to be made from such ideas. My idealism doesn't seem to be the same as Cameron's, like chalk and cheese!

    Perhaps all the comments we wish to draw to his attention to we should mark at the top with

    FOR THE ATTENTION OF MR. CAMERON

    It would be good if NT would continue to publish some of the most pertinent comments to present to him as I do appreciate he cannot possibly read them all.

    By the way it is Carnival in Switzerland and yesterday my fitness teacher said her four year old daughter is going as none other than 'TINKERBELL' and in previous years she has won several prizes for her costumes. Mum hires them rather than making them herself. They have processions in the streets on two different days, one for the kids and another for everybody with all the floats, so hopefully it won't be too icy cold. They also play Guggenmusik which is an extremely loud cacophony of brass and throw sweets and confetti (which one finds in ones apartment up to six months later!). A great excuse for all the local alcoholics as well. I wanted to tell my teacher about your Tinkerbell as well but thought it would be too complicated to try and explain in German and especially as even some of the young know nothing about commenting and blogging and I don't think she would be too interested in the NT and all our political problems anyway - they are more fascinated by our Queen which makes me puff up with British pride (at least there is still a little left to still to believe in!). Besides you know what is like trying to explain something and then wishing you had never started. The other day I tried to explain the game of Jacks to her which I discovered later on the Internet is unknown here and in German speaking countries which surprised me as we have nearly everything else under the sun in common despite our different languages.


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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 7-Feb-2012 12:40 pm

    sounds like much more fun there than here:)

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  • tinkerbell

    John Howes | 7-Feb-2012 12:21 pm

    John, what is the 'political astuteness' of which you speak and how can we turn this mess to our advantage. Any advice greatly appreciated, seriously.

    Is there something that we should be doing that we're not or vice versa?

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  • tinkerbell

    In the meantime how about some cheaper gas and electricity. Every little helps. Private healthcare providers will no doubt rip us off too!

    See email below.

    Gas and electricity companies rip us off. They get away with it because they sell something we all need - and they’re too big for each individual customer to take on.

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    There are nearly one million 38 Degrees members. Together we can use our customer power to get a fairer deal. That will help drive down prices for everyone. We'll save ourselves some money. But we'll also help all those who are struggling to afford to keep their homes warm.

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  • are we heading in the same direction as Greece?

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  • tinkerbell

    what about scrapping these reforms and the lives it will save?

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