|The News Line: Editorial
Thursday, 13 September 2018
NHS STAFFING CRISIS AS WAGES ARE FORCED DOWN AND CONDITIONS WORSENED
THE shortage of NHS staff in England is worsening official figures show. One in 11 posts is vacant, with the situation particularly bad among the nursing workforce. Experts rightly describe this situation as a ‘national emergency’ given the continuing rising demands for NHS treatment.
The latest figures have been published by the regulator, mis-named ‘NHS Improvement’, for the April to June period. They showed: • 11.8% of nurse posts were not filled – a shortage of nearly 42,000 • 9.3% of doctor posts were vacant – a shortage of 11,500 • Overall, 9.2% of all posts were not filled – a shortage of nearly 108,000.
The staff shortages facing hospitals, ambulances and mental health services mean spending on temporary staff is going hugely over budget, as private agencies collectively make billions out of the NHS crisis.
Tom Sandford, of the Royal College of Nursing, said the report painted a ‘bleak picture’, pointing out that the number of nurse vacancies had risen by 17% in the past three months alone.
Chris Hopson, head of NHS Providers, said the NHS was facing a ‘triple challenge’ of increasing demand, growing workforce shortages and pressure on finances. NHS Improvement chief executive Ian Dalton acknowledged that staff were working ‘extremely hard to cope’. He said steps were being taken to relieve the pressure, including a concerted effort to get patients out of hospital more quickly with the help of services in the community.
However, services in the community are being slashed to pieces by cash-strapped, bankrupt local councils who are to have commissioners imposed over them. The Department of Health and Social Care spokesman praised ‘hard-working’ staff and said despite the pressures the NHS was still providing ‘world class’ care.
The real picture is that tens of thousands of NHS beds have been cut, massive amounts of NHS property have been sold off, and now the NHS is seeking to establish a profitable commercial NHS brand abroad, to make massive profits in the Gulf states. NHS staff are being sent abroad to man these facilities.
Under the Tories, the NHS is to make profits abroad but is being shut down at home.
The real situation is that nurses and NHS staff are up in arms at the 10 years of pay poverty, and the recent union-negotiated pay deal that has seen pay cuts not pay rises, as the bosses seek to move away from annual pay rises.
Unions like Unison and Unite accepted the below-inflation pay rise offer by the now ex-NHS Secretary Hunt, and with it putting an end to annual pay rises as a right. The GMB to their credit did not. They rejected the savage pay-cutting divisive offer.
They have now been joined by the membership of the RCN nurses union who have taken the lead and risen up against the pay-cutting deal and their leaders.
The RCN Council has been forced by the membership of the union to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) which will take place on 28/09/18 at 11.00 am at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
RCN chief executive Janet Davies has already resigned after the union had said nurses would receive a 3% pay rise this month as part of the new three-year pay deal. However, nurses said they had received a rise of pennies!
The NHS, which agreed the pay deal with the unions, added salt to their wounds by stating that the agreement had not promised a 3% rise in the first year. Now, a motion has been put down for the RCN EGM. It is very much to the point and is a real answer to NHS England, the Tories and the RCN leaders. It reads, ‘We have no confidence in the current leadership of the Royal College of Nursing, and call on Council to stand down’.
The great workers’ revolt has begun, and must spread to the Unite and Unison trade unions that also accepted the deal. There must be a new leadership in the unions that will defend the NHS by calling a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government that will find the cash for the NHS by nationalising the banks and the drug companies.
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