50,000 NHS POSTS FOR AXE! – ‘NHS not safe in Tory hands’

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March in February last year to stop the closure of Whittington Hospital in north London
March in February last year to stop the closure of Whittington Hospital in north London

FALSE ECONOMY, the anti-cuts campaign website revealed today that more than 50,000 NHS staff posts are set for the axe, destroying government claims that the NHS is in safe hands.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said in April 2010 of possible NHS job cuts under Labour: ‘They will cut the number of nurses, the number of doctors and the number of hospital beds. It does not get more frontline than that.’

David Cameron then famously claimed before the election that he would ‘cut the deficit, not the NHS’.

However, less than 10 months into the coalition government, the reality couldn’t be more different, with NHS cuts across the country including:

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which expects to shed 1,013 full-time equivalent staff from 2010-15, including almost 50 doctors and dental staff, and 270 nurses, midwives and health visitors.

• Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which is cutting 682 full-time equivalent posts between 2010 and 2013. 110 posts have already gone.

• University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, who are currently forecasting a reduction of 1,349 full-time posts from 2011-15, which is 22.5 per cent of its entire staff.

• Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which expect to cut 461 full-time posts by 2015 – a 16 per cent reduction, including a 12 per cent cut in nurses, midwives and health visitors.

• Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, which is cutting 1,755 full-time posts in 2010-11 – nearly a nine per cent net reduction in one year, including 120 doctors and dentists, and 620 nurses.

• Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, which plans to shed 1,115 full-time posts from 2011-14, mainly through natural turnover.

The total confirmed, planned and potential NHS staff cuts across the country currently stands at just over 53,150 posts – and that’s before a host of trusts are expected to announce staff cuts over the next four months, including all Wales’ health boards, says the TUC.

The national total is already twice the previous estimate of 27,000 job cuts, published by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) last November.

The cuts in mental health trusts are particularly acute, with cuts of over 15 per cent at the following NHS Trusts; Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership, Derbyshire Mental Health Services, Mersey Care, and Kent and Medway and Social Care Partnership Trust.

False Economy’s figures have been collated for the most part from NHS trusts themselves under the Freedom of Information Act but also include figures sourced by the RCN Frontline First campaign, as well as press reports and foundation trusts’ annual plans published by the national regulator Monitor.

The BMA commented: ‘We agree absolutely that slashing posts represents a false economy.

‘Doctors and other NHS staff across the UK are working hard to deliver services more efficiently. Even cuts to “back-room” staff frequently have an impact on clinical workers, who have to pick up the administrative burden.

‘Added to this is the fact that the NHS in England is facing the biggest ever reorganisation in its history, and is under additional pressure as a result of cuts to other public services, such as social care.

‘Cutting staff or services is not the only, nor the best, way to save money in the NHS. There needs to be a much greater focus on reducing waste, such as that created by the bureaucracy of the internal market and the expensive folly of the Private Finance Initiative.’