Want the lowdown on the latest in nursing politics? Our student nurse Lorna Mclean talks the talk
The headlines this week issued a stark warning - the RCN thinks that spending cuts are meaning fewer front line staff, putting patients at risk.
he Health Secretary called it “typical trade union scaremongering”. It can be hard sometimes get to the bottom of stories like this. Political communication is not just the domain of the parties, organisations like the RCN are involved too.
There is so much spin in this news story it’s hard not to get dizzy.
So what is the truth? The NHS trust confederation agreed job cuts would need to be made to save the £20 billion the government needs them to. However they note that many of these job losses would come from redeployment across other areas, so overall staff numbers would not change as much as the RCN claims. Students approaching the end of their training (like me) are in an interesting position.
On the one hand, many newly qualified nurses are really struggling to get jobs. On the other, the RCN spoke of its concern over the ‘down-grading’ of posts during re-structuring, which potentially could open doors for the newly qualified at the expense of experienced nurses. Neither of those options are particularly appealing.
The RCN are likely to be biased too: cold hard numbers don’t always tell the whole story of patient care, as anyone who has worked with ineffectual colleagues will tell you. It’s impossible to draw a definite conclusion from this. Whichever way you look at it however, it’s not good news for job security and morale.
Health Minister Simon Burns, who accused the RCN of behaving like a ‘typical trade union’, claimed it “should be possible” to balance improvements in patient care with efficiency savings. Mr Burns has never worked in health care, so it’s worth noting he is making a hypothetical business-based judgement, not one based on experience.
For those in the trenches of nursing, it’s difficult to see how he’s going to manage it without rather a lot of spin.
Lorna McLean is a final year student studying child health nursing at Edinburgh Napier. Lorna has a MA (hons) degree in politics and international relations.