18,000 NURSES FACE SACK! – says RCN

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‘The impact of deficits on NHS services and staff shows no sign of slowing down, with posts at risk of being lost to the NHS now standing at 18,000’, the Royal College of Nursing said yesterday.

The new figure was released as the RCN launched a fresh appeal to nurses to sign its petition to the prime minister condemning cuts to NHS staff and services.

The new figure, which has been compiled by analysing weekly reports from RCN activists and staff across England, shows that the effects of the financial crisis in the NHS are worsening.

The RCN said in a statement: ‘A selection of new cuts to NHS staff and services includes:

• Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trusts to cut 222 posts from a range of services

• 1,200 posts and 186 beds to be cut after the merger of two Nottingham hospitals

• East and North Herts NHS Trust to cut up to 500 posts at hospitals in Hertfordshire

• Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust continues efforts to save £33m by cutting services and 600 posts

• City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust to cut 500 posts

• West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust to cut up to 500 posts

• Buckinghamshire PCTs, who have a large financial deficit, plan to reduce the staff in almost all their community services including almost 50 district nursing posts.’

The RCN called for ‘every nurse in the country to sign up and show their support’ as the ‘Keep Nurses Working – Keep Patients Safe’ petition is due to be handed in to Downing Street soon.

RCN General Secretary Dr Beverly Malone said: ‘With an estimated 18,000 posts at risk of being lost to the NHS, the deficits crisis shows no sign of slowing down.’

She added: ‘Every nurse counts. We will continue to oppose any reactionary or quick fix staffing cuts because we know they will have a direct impact on the quality of patient care.’

Meanwhile doctors writing in the Emergency Medicine Journal have warned that UK hospitals are poorly prepared to cope with a major incident, such as an act of terrorism.

Lack of funds, absence of a designated incident coordinator, and inadequate technology were blamed for the inability to improve preparedness for a major incident.

The crisis in the NHS is the result of the government’s drive to break it up and privatise healthcare.

The latest news adds urgency to the health unions-TUC campaign to ‘Save the NHS’.

The unions must take on the Blair government, beginning by calling for a Day of Action at the TUC Congress in September.