March 22 – The NHS experienced a decline in numbers of nurses in the last year – although doctor numbers increased, it was announced yesterday. The service lost some 3,411 nursing posts last year as well as 3,748 management posts. There was also a steep fall in numbers of clinical support staff – by 9,346.
The numbers represent a one per cent fall in nursing numbers and a 2.9 per cent reduction in support staff. They pose difficulties for the government at a time when standards of nursing care remain under intense scrutiny. Ministers say that overall there are more “clinical staff” in the service. There was a 1.7 per cent increase in hospital doctor numbers and a 0.9 per cent increase in GP numbers – representing about 2,000 doctors in total.
The Royal College of Nursing said the figures confirmed its fears that nurses were being hit by the NHS efficiency drive.
And shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “We are now seeing this Coalition’s true colours. They are handing out tax cuts to millionaires and P45s to nurses.
“It is simply unforgivable to spend billions on an NHS reorganisation nobody voted for and nobody wants when nurses are being made redundant in their thousands. The bad news only emerged a day after the Bill was rammed through Parliament.”
The numbers emerged as the British Medical Journal published a detailed study on the links between nursing and patient recovery.
The study of 13 countries found a strong link between nurse-patient ratios and the quality of care reported by patients.
RCN chief executive Dr Peter Carter said: “These findings are hugely significant and provide more compelling evidence that nursing numbers and the working environment have a direct relation to quality of care and patient experience.
“It is shocking that the burnout experienced by nurses in England is the second worst in Europe, and this should be a major cause of concern for employers.”
He added: “Due to increasing cuts, staff are over-stretched and are not given the resources to provide their patients with the level of care they would wish.”
Health Minister Simon Burns said: “We welcome the latest figures that show there are more clinical staff working in the NHS than ever before, while the number of managers has fallen dramatically.
“We believe passionately in the NHS, and this is why funding will increase by £12.5 billion over the next four years, protecting the NHS for the future.”
British Medical Journal March 20 2012; 344 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e1717
Click here to read the original abstract.
Source: Englemed Newsroom
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