PLANS to axe thousands of nursing, doctor and NHS staff posts under the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) were revealed yesterday by the Health Service Journal (HSJ).
Almost all of the unpublished 44 Sustainability STPs that prescribe cuts at every hospital in the country, have been leaked. Examining the leaked plans, HSJ revealed that the next wave of proposed cuts means that over the next few years hospitals will have to try and treat more patients with thousands fewer nurses and other NHS staff.
HSJ analysed a sample covering a quarter of the 44 STPs, shared on the basis they are not identified. They include more than one from each of the NHS’s four regions and a mix of rural and urban areas.
National officials have distanced themselves from the forecasts, with NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens saying last week: ‘It is certain that we are going to need more qualified nurses in the National Health Service in five years’ time than now.’
In total, the 11 STPs forecast a 1.6 per cent reduction in whole time equivalent staff between 2016-17 and 2020-21, with a 2.3 per cent reduction in registered nursing posts.
If this is applied across England, it indicates reductions of 17,300 overall and 7,300 in the nursing, midwifery and health visitor group, which is dominated by nursing. Nursing in particular is being hit by an acute recruitment crisis.
Firstly, NHS students’ bursaries have been axed, meaning that from next year, training to become a nurse or midwife will put every student into at least £52,000 worth of debt.
Secondly, NHS workers pay has been capped at 1% for years which is also discouraging the next generation from going into the profession. A petition urging the government to scrap an NHS pay cap of 1% has reached 100,000 signatures and will be debated in parliament.
The online petition was started by community nurse Danielle Tiplady. Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: ‘This is a monumental step in our campaign to “Scrap the Cap”.
‘Working at the centre of the NHS crisis, nursing staff are going above and beyond every single day, yet they have endured the public sector pay cap since 2010. This has left them 14% worse off in real terms, and more and more of our members are telling us they are reaching breaking point.
‘This petition shows just how many people support our call to lift this pay cap once and for all. Thank you to everyone who has helped so far, it really is an incredible achievement.
‘Now with 100,000 signatures, parliament will fully debate this issue, shining a much needed spotlight on nursing pay. We will continue to fight until all nursing staff receive the pay they truly deserve.’