NHS faces over 53,000 job losses

by Daphne Liddle

THE NATIONAL Health Service is to cut 53,150 posts, including many front-line staff, according to research by the TUC-backed campaign group False Economy.

The research is based on figures for job cuts already announced by NHS trusts throughout the country. But there are many trusts which have yet to declare their cuts so the figure could climb a lot higher.

The figures make a mockery of Tory promises before last year’s election that Cameron would “cut the deficit, not the NHS” and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s boast that the NHS was safe in Tory hands.

The Con-Dem coalition has claimed that NHS cuts would not affect frontline staff but plainly frontline staff will be very much affected.

And even if the cuts did only affect admin and ancillary staff that would still lead to a much poorer service for patients.

Porters, cleaners, security and kitchen staff play a vital role in keeping infection low and patients safe and adequately and appropriately fed.

Then there are thousands of occupational and physiotherapists who help patients recover their independence and get back to normal life and work as quickly as possible. They save the economy £billions in sickness benefits that would otherwise have to be paid out.

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And secretarial staff are vital for arranging appointments and as an irreplaceable liaison bridge between patients and their consultants. Without their work waiting times would be much longer and doctors and nurses would have to spend long hours on paper or computer work, which would reduce the time they could spend with patients.

The False Economy report shows that:

The cuts in mental health trusts are particularly acute, with cuts of over 15 per cent at the following NHS Trusts; Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership, Derbyshire Mental Health Services, Mersey Care, and Kent and Medway and Social Care Partnership Trust.

False Economy’s figures have been collated for the most part from NHS trusts themselves under the Freedom of Information Act but also include figures sourced by the RCN Frontline First campaign, as well as press reports and foundation trusts’ annual plans published by the national regulator Monitor.

“While most of the cuts are likely to be achieved through natural wastage rather than compulsory redundancies, it is hard to see how 20 per cent staff cuts — such as those planned by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust — can be achieved without directly impacting on patient care,” says the TUC.

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Dr Peter Carter said even though many trusts were facing financial difficulties, cutting jobs and services “is never the answer”.

Unison’s general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Losing 50,000 health workers will hurt. With fewer nurses on wards, the return of long waiting lists, and a rise in cancelled operations, patient care will be an early casualty.”