THE Royal College of Nursing (RCN) yesterday warned that 3,000 NHS jobs, including 1,000 nurses’ jobs, are under threat.
This was after the government announced that there would be an estimated £623 million NHS deficit by the end of next March.
Health Secretary Hewitt announced that ‘turnaround teams’, known in the NHS as ‘hit squads’ would be sent into the NHS to make cuts to reduce the March deficit to £200 million.
Tom Sandford, Director for England at the RCN, said: ‘We predicted that NHS Trusts would be in huge deficit months ago and the government dismissed our claims.
‘Our research shows that deficits could hit £1 billion in acute and community trusts across England and as a consequence, up to 3,000 staff, including at least 1,000 nurses, could lose their jobs.
‘The subsequent impact on patient care will be devastating.
‘The problem of deficits must be tackled. But tackling deficits means proper funding and sound financial management.
‘What it must never mean is bed closures, job losses and job freezes.
‘Patients and nurses must never pay the price because books cannot be balanced.
‘We are also concerned that the NHS is paying financial consultants a lot of money to tell us what we already know.
‘Even more worrying is that they will also be the ones deciding where cuts are made.
‘These are decisions that should be taken by NHS staff.’
He concluded: ‘We will continue to raise the issue with government on behalf of our members and the patients they care for.’
The BMA (British Medical Association) warned that it would not accept ‘aggressive bully boy tactics’ by government ‘hit squads’ to deal with the NHS financial crisis.
The BMA was responding to revelations that Health Secretary Hewitt will be selecting the ‘turnaround teams’ on Monday to go into the 50 most in-deficit hospital trusts and health authorities.
Their aim will be to force trusts to balance their books, which will mean cuts and hospital closures.
The BMA said: ‘What they need is support, not being thrown into the deep end, left to sink or swim.’