‘We will be consulting our members on what action should be taken to defend these NHS jobs’, GMB trade union national officer Sharon Holder told News Line yesterday.
She was was responding to the Department of Health’s admission that just over 900 NHS staff are set to be compulsorily sacked as part of hospital reorganisations.
Holder said: ‘We were given to understand that any redundancies would be by non-compulsory means.
‘Now there has been a complete shift and change. Today shifts the position completely.
‘The health unions are lobbying parliament on Wednesday and I’ve no doubt strong views will be aired to ministers and MPs.’
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary Dr Beverly Malone said: ‘A post lost – whether through redundancy or freezing and deleting posts – means there is a job not being done and a service not being given.’
She attacked Health Minister Lord Warner’s claim that DoH figures gave a ‘true picture’, that there are ‘only 900’ staff facing compulsory redundancy and the RCN figure of 20,000 NHS workers facing the axe was an ‘inflated figure’.
The RCN leader said: ‘We welcome the fact that the government has at last come clean on the serious number of compulsory redundancies in the NHS because of the deficits crisis.
‘However, we are dismayed that ministers have failed to include in their published evidence the number of voluntary redundancies and posts to be deleted in the NHS.
‘Let me be clear about the figure of 20,000 NHS post losses that the RCN have identified.
‘We don’t claim that this figure is exclusively redundancies.
‘This is the number of posts identified by Trusts in England to be lost by freezing and deleting posts and by voluntary and compulsory redundancies.
‘But ministers should be under no illusions about the serious impact on patients’ care if these posts are lost to the NHS.
‘It also leaves the staff remaining treating even more patients, placing them under often intolerable and unsustainable pressure.’
Malone concluded: ‘What also saddens me greatly is that the government seem to be claiming 903 NHS compulsory redundancies as a success. I am sure that the 903 people do not share their view.’
A British Medical Association (BMA) spokesman told News Line: ‘The government figures are only of compulsory redundancies.
‘They don’t take into account the number of posts that have been lost, either through natural wastage or cut for financial reasons.
‘Just because a cut hasn’t resulted in redundancy, doesn’t mean there is no impact on patient care or on other staff who are left to do extra work as a result.’
A Unison spokeswoman added: ‘The government isn’t taking into account voluntary redundancies, posts being frozen, agency staff no longer being used.
‘Obviously the work doesn’t go away just because the post has been closed. The patients are still there.’
The coalition of 14 NHS trade unions and professional organisations, including the BMA and RCN, ‘NHS Together’ backed by the TUC, are lobbying MPs tomorrow to demand no more NHS privatisation and an end to cuts, closures and and sackings.
The trade union leaders are letting jobs go and wards close, and UNISON has already accepted the privatisation of NHS Logistics.
It is time to stop the rot and insist that action is taken to defend the NHS and every NHS job.