The number of mental health nurses working in the NHS has dropped by almost a sixth since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, figures show.
The revelation has sparked fresh doubt that government pledges to improve mental health services are being matched by progress at the NHS frontline.
Philip Dunne, the health minister, has admitted in a written parliamentary answer that while there were 45,384 mental health nurses working in England in 2010, there were just 38,774 in July this year. That fall of 6,610 nurses represents the loss of about 1,000 such specialists a year, or almost 15% of the entire workforce providing that sort of vital care to patients over the last six and a half years.
“This is a very worrying downward trend that shows no sign of turning around, despite all the government’s pronouncements and pledges about equality for mental health care compared to physical health care,” said Labour MP Luciana Berger, the ex-shadow health minister who obtained the answer.
The loss of so many posts meant that patients are at risk of receiving lesser-quality care than before and their recovery is being jeopardised by having less contact time with nurses, who were likely to be busier than ever, Berger warned.
The Royal College of Nursing claimed the figures proved that patients were being let down and ministerial pledges of recent years were not being delivered....read more
Iconic specialist hospital discovers 7,000 patients missed off waiting list (HSJ: 24 February 2016)
An internationally renowned children’s hospital had to send patients to other providers after discovering its waiting list was four times bigger than it thought, HSJ can reveal.
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation Trust saw its waiting list grow from 2,000 to more than 9,000 after it realised it had not properly recorded the waiting time information for thousands of patients.
The London based trust was criticised by the Care Quality Commission last month and the full size of the waiting list backlog was revealed in the trust’s January board papers...read more
Hospital on black alert as patients face diversions and long waits in A&E (The Argus: 25 February 2016)
A hospital has been placed on the highest level of alert as it battles to control demand from patients and a shortage of beds.
One patient at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton was reported to have waited for more than 20 hours in the accident and emergency department before they could be moved on to a ward.
Another patient reportedly waited more than 12 hours to be formally handed over to hospital staff by the ambulance service because the department was too busy to take them when they were brought in...read more
Why David Cameron is completely wrong about 11,000 weekend NHS deaths (The Independent: 25 February 2016)
Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron got into a row at Prime Minister’s Question time about death figures in NHS hospitals at the weekend.
The figures are important because Jeremy Hunt’s argument for introducing a new contract hinges on the idea that hospital care is worse at weekends because of staffing levels...read more
NHS hospitals 'putting profit before public service' by expanding private work amid falling standards (The Independent: 20 February 2016)
NHS hospitals in England have been accused of putting profit before public service after a surge in income from private patients over the past five years coincided with falling standards.
Aggregate income from private patients jumped from just over £408m in 2010 to £526m last year – a rise of almost 30 per cent – according to a parliamentary written answer by the Health Minister Alistair Burt. And requests sent to specific trusts revealed that hospitals serving the constituents of the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his team were among those leading the charge.
Private patient income at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which serves the Health Minister Jane Ellison’s constituents, rose by 88 per cent, from £8.18m in 2010 to £15.4m in 2015. The hospital trust received a “Requires Improvement” rating after its last inspection. Although the regulator found staff to be caring and compassionate, inspectors said there was potentially an under-reporting of patient safety incidents resulting in death or severe harm. Medical staffing levels did not meet recommended standards in A&E and palliative care...read more
Elderly hospital patients given eviction warnings (The Telegraph: 17 February 2016)
Spike in mental health patient deaths shows NHS 'struggling to cope' (The Guardian: 26 January 2016)
More heart patients die as Hunt gives 999 dispatchers longer to send ambulance (Evening Standard: 12 January 2016)
NHS will struggle to cope this winter, new analysis finds (Nuffield Trust: 10 December 2015)
Hundreds of operations cancelled despite doctors' strike being called off (The Guardian: 1 December 2015)
South Tyneside NHS Trust 'requires improvement' inspectors say (BBC Tyne & Wear: 1 December 2015)
NHS pressure increases as A&E waiting times INCREASE with 12 per cent waiting over four hours (The Mirror: 28 November 2015)
NHS trusts' overspend hits £1.6bn (BBC: 20 November 2015 )
The worrying truth about mental health services (HSJ: 12 November 2015)
Trust closes beds as chair warns it is 'becoming unviable clinically' (HSJ: 29 October 2015)
Care Quality Commission: two-thirds of hospitals offering substandard care (The Guardian: 15 October 2015)
Royal college warning over staffing 'pressure' on maternity wards (HSJ: 24 September 2015)
What Addenbrooke's tells us about state of NHS. (BBC News: 22 September 2015)
Jeremy Hunt’s hit squad is a danger to our national health. (The Guardian: 22 September 2015)