The NHS in England is "sleepwalking into a crisis" with more than 61,000 frontline posts destined for the axe, says the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
The RCN is now calling on the British government to take immediate action to stop trusts cutting vital posts and services.
The effect of the nursing cuts is magnified by the reduction in the number of nursing places commissioned by universities in England and the RCN is urging the new body for education and training, Health Education England, to act now to ensure the profession is fit for the future.
Despite promises to protect the frontline and the public’s growing health demands, at the halfway point in the Coalition Government the RCN’s Frontline First campaign has identified more some 61,000 posts across the NHS in England that are now at risk or have been axed.
NHS Information Centre figures also reveal that the NHS workforce has fallen by almost 21,000 since the Coalition Government came to power. This includes a loss of more than 6,000 qualified nursing posts.
RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said: “For the past two and a half years, the Government’s consistent rhetoric has been that frontline posts and services are being protected. Sadly, that is simply not the case."
He continued: "Nursing is not being protected in the same way as some other clinical professions, with posts and training places often cut for purely financial reasons. We believe all clinical professions should be afforded equal protection."
"Currently, the nursing supply line is being choked and given the importance of nursing to provide high quality care, this has worrying implications for patients. Indeed, if this current trend continues, we fear the worst for patient care in this country," said Dr Carter.
The Frontline First November 2012 update can be read and downloaded here (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/486175/FF_England_brie...