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The News Line: News NURSES HECKLE LANSLEY
RCN members marching on the TUC demonstration last March against the coalition’s cuts that have cost over 3,000 nurses’ jobs
Nurses at the RCN Annual Conference in Harrogate yesterday heckled and poured scorn on claims by Health Secretary Lansley that clinical staffing levels in the NHS had actually increased under the Tory-led coalition.

Lansley was speaking in the wake of a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) study that warned that more than 60,000 frontline jobs in the NHS, including those of nurses, were at risk because of spending cuts, with almost half already gone.

Lansley was speaking in the wake of a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) study that warned that more than 60,000 frontline jobs in the NHS, including those of nurses, were at risk because of spending cuts, with almost half already gone.

He angered RCN members when he told them that they should tell their superiors if they felt staffing levels were not safe.

Nurses shouted ‘liar’ when he claimed clinical staffing levels had actually increased since he became Health Secretary.

And he drew gasps of outrage and disbelief when he told them that although overall staffing numbers in the NHS were down, the number of ‘professionally qualified, clinical staff’ had actually increased by ‘nearly 4,000’.

Lansley admitted that the number of nurses in the NHS has gone down ‘by nearly 3,000’, but went on to claim that this had been balanced out by an increase in the number of doctors of ‘nearly 4,000’.

In the question and answer session which followed his speech, Lansley was condemned for presiding over a hospital staffing crisis which has seen many wards down to 70% staffing.

On the increased pension age he was asked: ‘How can nurses be expected to do a physically and mentally demanding job until they are 68, when the chances are that, by then, they will be using the NHS themselves, as patients?’

One delegate said he wanted the government to be prosecuted for ‘theft’ for increasing his pension contribution, ‘stealing’ from his pay packet.

RCN General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said that despite earlier suggestions that something was going to ‘kick off’, nurses had treated Lansley in a professional manner.

But he warned: ‘Don’t take that as some kind of indication things are fine. There is a great deal of unhappiness.’

Also yesterday, government plans to move care from acute hospitals to community settings were branded a ‘facade’ by the RCN.

It warned it risked producing a ‘revolving door’ for patients, who are discharged from hospital to find the support is not there in the community.

A survey of community nurses found that many are facing cutbacks and spending less time with patients.
 
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