Nursing posts fall in cull of NHS staff
Published: 21st Mar 2012 10:25:49
NHS staff numbers in England have seen their biggest drop in a decade with nursing posts among those culled, official figures show.
The workforce declined by nearly 20,000 - 1.4% - in 2011 to 1,350,000.
Most of the drop related to support and managerial staff, but nurse numbers also fell by 1% - despite promises by ministers to protect the frontline.
It comes after NHS finance chiefs have been told they need to find even more savings than expected.
The health service has been working on the basis that £20bn of efficiency savings needed to be identified by 2015 to cope with the growing demands related to the ageing population and lifestyle factors such as obesity.
But NHS finance chiefs are now working on the basis that a similar amount will have to be found in the following spending period because of the squeeze on public finances.
It is understood they were told the productivity drive would have to continue beyond 2015 in recent meetings with senior Department of Health officials.
Professor Chris Ham, the chief executive of the King's Fund think-tank, said: "It promises to be an even more challenging period for the NHS than expected."
The decline in the workforce figures - released by the NHS Information Centre - have been partly expected because thousands of managers and admin staff have been made redundant in primary care trusts which are being abolished under the government's reforms.
In total, support staff numbers fell by nearly 14,000 in the year to September 2011 - a fall of 6%.
Manager posts saw the single biggest decline, dropping by 9% to 38,0000.
But nurse posts also reduced - something unions had been warning would happen. The total employed fell by nearly 3,500, 1% of the total.
However, GP and consultant numbers rose and overall staff numbers are still up by more than a fifth from a decade ago.
Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the figures were "incredibly worrying" and the situation was only going to get worse.
He added: "Despite the rhetoric, we know that frontline jobs are not being protected and NHS trusts must stop making cuts in a quick fix attempt to save money.
"Put bluntly, the idea that cutting hundreds of jobs from a hospital will not affect the care of patients is ludicrous."
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Nursing posts fall in cull of NHS staff [Online] (Updated 21st Mar 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1417762/Nursing-posts-fall-in-cull-of-NHS-staff [Accessed 7th Mar 2014]
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