A PETITION signed by over 46,000 nurses and members of the public was delivered to 10 Downing Street yesterday by a delegation from the Royal College of Nursing and patient charities.
The ‘Keep Nurses Working, Keep Patients Safe’ petition demanded a halt to ‘the short-term fix of service cuts and redundancy’ and a long-term ‘recovery programme’ for the NHS.
‘Twelve months ago, the number of posts that were at risk of being lost was 3,000. Now that figure has ballooned to 20,000,’ said RCN General Secretary Beverly Malone.
‘We hope the government will now acknowledge the concern and distress which this dash for financial balance is causing amongst nurses and patients.’
It is almost a year since the RCN first warned about the impact of so-called NHS deficits.
Speaking before the nurses’ delegation went in to Downing Street to hand in their petition, Beverly Malone told News Line: ‘This is a very important petition that represents not just nurses, but the public.
‘The knee-jerk reaction, the fast pace of change cannot jeopardise patient safety,’ Malone demanded.
She added: ‘We are asking the government to pause for breath, include nurses, front-line staff and patients in decision-making and find other ways to address the deficits in a more systematic, more planned way.’
Yesterday’s petition was accompanied by a letter to the prime minister, urging the government to ‘slow down the pace of reform and give the NHS the time it needs and the support it deserves to ensure irretrievable damage is not made.’
Malone said: ‘The simple truth is that if nursing posts are lost, patients will suffer – and we will continue to fight against this.’