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


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.”


Readers' comments (27)

  • tinkerbell

    Latest from 38 degrees below.

    Is our NHS still in mortal danger? Andrew Lansley's NHS plans are due to become law within three months. So we need to vote now to decide what we should do together in the next few weeks to keep our NHS safe.

    Our campaign has made real progress. We have just heard that under pressure from us, the House of Lords has watered down Lansley's plan to scrap his responsibility to provide an NHS. [1] That's a huge success and shows that our campaign can work.

    But there's still plenty to worry about. Leading medical organisations like the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nurses are now calling outright for Lansley's plans to be dropped. They warn that - even with the changes we've campaigned so hard for - the plans are "a mess" and the future of the NHS is still under threat. [2]

    Can you fill in a quick online poll to help decide what we do next? Then we can spring back into action next week.

    It's no surprise 38 Degrees members keep make protecting the NHS a priority. We all know that it's a national treasure. We can't afford to lose it. So in the past year half a million of us have got involved with this campaign - e-mailing and visiting MPs, signing petitions, donating cash, buying ads and even hiring a team of expert lawyers to cut through Lansley's spin. [3]

    What should we do now? Is it time to zoom in on the parts of Lansley's plan which would introduce more competition and privatisation to the NHS? Or should we step back from the details and join with the doctors and nurses demanding the entire plan is withdrawn? Or something else? [4]

    It's up to you - please take 3 minutes to help plan our next steps:

    38 Degrees members have proved time and again that people power works. When we launched our campaign against the government plans to sell off our national woodlands we were told we had no chance. But we kept at it. And after months of working together, we forced the government to stand up and admit they got it wrong. [5]

    In the same way, people have been telling us for nearly a year now that Lansley's NHS plans are a done deal. We have never let that put us off! And already by working together we've helped rein in some of the worst parts. There's so much more we can do in the next three months – so let's decide our plans together.

    Thanks for getting involved,

    Johnny, David, Marie, Hannah, Cian, Becky and the 38 Degrees team

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  • Hello All!
    I have a letter due tomorrow about my future nursing career. Demotion or no job basically, wrapped up in jargon. Thanks Mr Cameron, you're doing fine things for the NHS!

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 9-Feb-2012 12:11 pm

    Please could you send a copy of it to your MP and also post it on this site and Jenni may send it to Mr Cameron too as Jenni is sending some of these posts to him or one of his cronies.

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  • tinkerbell

    let me guess, are you Band 7, cos' they're next on the 'hit' list apparently.

    These managers (henchmen) who are doing this don't seem to realise that very soon they won't have anything to manage and their jobs will be on the line too.They don't appear to have that foresight. They are selling their souls to implement these staffing cutbacks. How dim witted is that that they are going along with it all to save their (sorry arses) jobs.

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  • tinkerbell

    Well said young man. Only listen to this if you are adult enough to listen to swearing. Telling it like it is. Well done our great british young uns.

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  • tinkerbell

    Don't watch this is you are easily offended by swearing

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  • tinkerbell

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