More than 22,300 NHS posts have been lost in the last 18 months because of the financial crisis hitting the health service, according to a new report from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
On the eve of its annual Congress, the RCN?s launches ?Our NHS ? Today and Tomorrow? which lays bare the myth that the deficits crisis in the NHS has been solved.
The General Secretary of the RCN, Dr Peter Carter, warns that unless the government addresses the situation immediately, the devastating actions taken last year will continue to hit patient care and destabilise the NHS for the foreseeable future.
“The deficits issue is not history – it is real, entrenched and continues to hit patient care, services and jobs. Yes, the NHS achieved overall financial balance last year – but at what cost?
“Our NHS remains caught up in a rip-tide of cuts, rushed reforms and poor workforce planning. This is hitting services, hurting patients, undermining staff morale and threatening the hard-won progress made over recent years.”
The report shows how the government’s insistence that trusts balance their books last year has led to thousands of jobs disappearing from the health service through a combination of redundancies, post deletions and recruitment freezes. Deficit-led cuts also continue to hit hard across the NHS; specialist nurses are seeing their posts downgraded and lost, public health and training budgets are being used to plug deficits elsewhere in the system and newly qualified nurses are unable to find jobs.
Importantly, the report sets out a range of solutions to the crisis and the steps needed to safeguard the NHS. It calls on the government to talk to, and work with, frontline staff; give trusts more time and flexibility to achieve financial balance and move away from the culture of imposing redundancies, vacancy freezes and post deletions and insteadimplement sustainable workforce planning.
Peter Carter said:
?The NHS is the jewel in the crown of our public services. That?s why we are asking the government to listen to, and work with nurses and their colleagues in the NHS Team.
?Our report offers practical solutions to meet the challenges and problems our health service faces. We?ll be sending a copy of this report to every single MP in the country – for the sake of our NHS I urge them to read it and act upon it.?