NHS job cuts total ‘doubles to 50,000’

By Alex Stevenson

The number of job cuts expected in the NHS has nearly doubled in the last few months, according to new research.

In November the Royal College of Nursing predicted total staff cuts would reach 27,000. Today the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has predicted just over 53,150 posts are now expected to be lost.

The Department of Health (DoH) refused to recognise the figures, however.

False Economy, a new anti-cuts website, has been launched with the warning that the number could increase further as more trusts – including all of Wales’ health boards – announce their plans in the next four months.

The TUC details NHS trusts like East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, which expects to shed 1,013 full-time equivalent staff from 2010/15, or Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which has already cut 110 jobs and will make total reductions of 682 full-time staff between 2010 and 2013.

“The Tories are not the party of the NHS – they are the party that will destroy our NHS,” Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said.

“Losing 50,000 health workers will hurt. It’s only a matter of time before the toll of bed shortages and ward closures mount up. With fewer nurses on wards, the return of long waiting lists, and a rise in cancelled operations, patient care will be an early casualty.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary John Healey said the NHS was facing “huge pressure” from the reforms being implemented at the same time as huge spending cuts.

Ministers aim to achieve up to £20 billion of efficiency savings which will be reinvested elsewhere in the NHS.

Mr Healey said the cuts would hit patient care. “After big improvements in the NHS with Labour, people are starting to find waiting times rise, operations postponed, services cutback and frontline posts frozen or cut,” he commented.

“David Cameron also told the country before the election that he’d tell any Cabinet minister making cuts to frontline services to go and think again. It’s him who should think again about his reckless plans for the NHS.”

The DoH issued a frosty response to the report, insisting it did not offer an “accurate reflection of the recruitment situation in the NHS”.

A spokesperson said: “It does not take into account the rises in clinical consortia jobs, those in social enterprises or the rises we are beginning to see in health visitors. There are nearly 2,500 more doctors, more nurses and more midwives – and 2,000 fewer managers since May.”

False Economy’s organisers hope the website will become the hub of the anti-cuts movement. It allows people to upload details of local cuts, provide testimony on how the cuts will affect them and promote local groups and activities.