NHS 'sleepwalking' into crisis

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that the NHS is "sleepwalking into a crisis", saying that huge staff reductions come as there is a soaring demand for care.

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RCN: 'Cuts have hit frontline services patients rely on'

For the past two-and-a-half years, the Government's consistent rhetoric has been that frontline posts and services are being protected.

Sadly, that is simply not the case. Tens of thousands of posts have gone and cuts are a now common occurrence on the ground, hitting jobs and services that patients rely on.

Nursing is not being protected in the same way as some other clinical professions, with posts and training places often cut for purely financial reasons.

We believe all clinical professions should be afforded equal protection. Currently, the nursing supply line is being choked and, given the importance of nursing to provide high quality care, this has worrying implications for patients.

Indeed, if this current trend continues, we fear the worst for patient care in this country.

– DR PETER CARTER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE RCN

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Burnham: 'The NHS is taking a battering'

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary said:

Whilst David Cameron wastes billions on back-office restructuring, the front-line of the NHS is taking a battering. Ambulances are once again queuing up outside A&Es across England. In many hospitals there are simply not enough qualified nurses on the ground and healthcare assistants are increasingly being used to cover nurses’ roles.

Since David Cameron walked through the door of 10 Downing Street, over six thousand nursing posts have been lost. At the same time, he has spent £1 billion on redundancy packages for managers. Six-figure pay-outs to managers; P45s to nurses – what clearer illustration could there be of a Government with its priorities completely wrong?

The truth is that this Government has de-stabilised the NHS with a re-organisation nobody wanted and two years of real-terms spending cuts. It is this deadly combination of cuts and re-organisation that has proved toxic for the NHS and left it in a critical condition. Ministers are taking unacceptable risks with standards of patient care and they cannot continue to ignore the warnings from nurses’ and doctors’ leaders. They must urgently intervene to protect the NHS front-line as it cannot safely sustain job losses at this level.

'Getting the nursing numbers right is fundamental'

The cumulative effect of those local decisions means that we are heading towards a crisis as far as the supply of nursing is concerned which will have an impact on patient care.

There has to be national oversight to make sure that we are getting the right numbers of healthcare professionals across the system.

Getting the nursing numbers right is fundamental, it's core.

If attention isn't paid to this warning from us we are very, very concerned about what the impact on care will be.

– Howard Catton, RCN head of policy

On a daily basis, nurses are telling us that they do not have enough staff to deliver good quality care.

Demand for services is continuing to rise. However, staffing levels are being slashed.

The £3 billion that the Treasury has clawed back from the NHS in the last two years should be reinvested back into vital jobs and services, for example in community provision, that would ultimately improve patient care.

– Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN

RCN: There needs to be a national oversight to staff numbers

While NHS trusts locally make the decisions about staffing levels, the RCN said there is a lack of national oversight about the reduction in staff numbers.

A nurse tends to an elderly man as the RCN warns of staffing cuts Credit: Reuters

The organisation is calling on ministers to prevent NHS trusts from "continuing with this damaging agenda of cuts" that "impact on patient care".

RCN: NHS cuts in numbers

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said:

  • More than 30,000 NHS jobs are at risk of being cut
  • Since the coalition came to power in May 2010, the NHS workforce in England has decreased by 28,500 posts
  • A further 32,700 jobs are at risk
  • Between May 2010 and July this year, the number of qualified nurses working for the health service reduced by more than 6,000

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NHS will find itself in a 'perfect storm of ageing population in inadequate nursing'

A report for the RCN's Frontline First campaign said:

The RCN believes that the NHS is sleepwalking into a nursing crisis in England that is drawing closer as the size of the cuts increase.

If the Government continues on its current path it will find itself stranded in a perfect storm of an ageing population with increasing healthcare demands, but without the adequate nursing workforce to deal with it.

RCN warns that the 'NHS is sleepwalking into a crisis'

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that the NHS is "sleepwalking into a crisis", saying that huge staff reductions come as there is a soaring demand for care.

The ageing population and the increasing number of people living with long-term conditions mean that demand for services continues to rise.

The organisation is calling on ministers to prevent NHS trusts from "continuing with this damaging agenda of cuts" that "impact on patient care".

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