NHS Faces Strike Threat as 460,000 Healthcare Staff to be Balloted (International Business Times, 15 April 2014)

Hundreds and thousands of healthcare workers in the UK, including nurses and paramedics, are to be balloted for a strike over pay.

According to the trade union Unison, the 460,000 employees are angry at the government's decision to increase pay by 1% – below Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation of 1.6%.

The union claims that the government's remuneration move has left 60% of NHS workers without a pay increase this year, including 70% of nurses

"Demand for NHS services is increasing and funding has been cut - regardless of what the Westminster Government says – you know the reality of this and they want you and our members to make up the shortfall by cutting pay and conditions," said Christina McAnea, Unison's head of health.


NHS nurses stretched to breaking point, says report (The Guardian: 14 April 2014)

Half of nurses are working through breaks or beyond their shift, revealing a health service under severe strain, a report has warned.

A survey of almost 3,000 nurses by Unison showed that two-thirds believed they did not spend enough time with patients, which most said affected care.

Three out of five of those questioned felt that staff numbers led to lower standards of care, while almost half said they were looking after eight or more patients.

The report, Running on Empty, said half of nurses were not confident about raising any concerns they had with their local managers

Gail Adams, Unison's head of nursing, said: "One of the most damaging findings of this survey is how little has changed since last year.


Strikers picket Care UK's Doncaster office (Socialist Worker, 25th March 2014)

A firm at the forefront of NHS privatisation faces a rebellion from its own staff. Workers who care for adults with learning disabilities in Doncaster ended their second seven-day strike in a month on Tuesday of this week. The Unison union members are battling a huge attack on their terms and conditions after Care UK took over their service last September. Unison steward Lorraine Cotterell told Socialist Worker that Care UK promised changes would be “minimal”—but “these proposals couldn’t be more maximum if they tried”. "They want to get rid of enhancements for weekend pay, unsociable hours, sleepovers and bank holidays,” she said.

“They’re sabotaging everybody’s lives. It’s absolutely criminal that a private company can come in and do this. If Care UK gets away with it God help the rest of the NHS.”

Strikers collectively burnt the new contracts on the picket line. Accepting them would cost striker Roger Hutt £500 a month. Socialists have been inviting strikers to speak at union meetings and organising collections for the strike fund.

But hard-nosed bosses haven’t budged—except to extend by one week the deadline for signing the new contracts. “Some are talking about all-out strike now,” Stephanie said. “That’s a good idea. But there are people worrying about paying their bills.”

“Our job is standing up for vulnerable adults’ said Lorraine. “Now we’re standing up for ourselves.”


Survey shows the majority of public health staff want to quit sector (Hospital Doctor, 21st March 2014)

Public health consultants and trainees say the recent health reforms have failed to benefit the public’s health and more than half of specialists have considered leaving the profession, research reveals.The BMA survey highlights a potential workforce crisis. More than half of public health consultants and just under half of those in training, have recently considered leaving public health due to issues around career fulfilment, work-life balance and fears about future changes to terms and conditions.

There is also significant concern that the current workforce is being spread too thinly, with only 12% of survey respondents believing that, in ten years time, there will be enough public health consultants available to serve the increasingly complex needs of the population.

Worryingly, the survey also shows there is still little support for the public health reforms in England. The majority of those surveyed do not think the reforms have benefited the public’s health and believe the level of unnecessary bureaucracy has increased. The report highlights the risks associated with fragmentation of the workforce and of some healthcare services.


Thousands of redundant NHS staff rehired (BBC News, 17th March 2014)

New figures indicate that almost 4,000 staff made redundant from the NHS in England, before last year's major restructuring, have since been re-employed. The government blamed "unacceptably lax" contracts that allow staff to re-join the NHS a month after redundancy. It says it's working on tough new plans to cap payouts, and has reduced administrative posts overall.

The number of national health service staff estimated to have been made redundant and later re-employed almost doubled in the last year - from 2,200 managers - Ministerial responses to Parliamentary Questions have revealed. The total now stands at 3,950. Overall, more than 10,000 full-time workers were made redundant from the NHS in England since the restructuring of the service.

Changes introduced in April 2013 have seen 150 primary care trusts, run by managers, replaced with 211 clinical commissioning groups, led by family doctors.

Fears jobs could go overseas as NHS trust plans to outsource roles (Manchester Evening News: 27 February 2014)

UNISON, the NHS’ largest union, says plans by Pennine Acute Trust to ‘privatise’ back room jobs could also lead to patient health records being sent to India for processing.

It is feared up to 200 jobs could ultimately be put at risk across the trust’s four sites: North Manchester General Hospital, Royal Oldham Hospital, Rochdale Infirmary andFairfield Hospital in Bury.

Trust bosses, who have so far avoided redundancies through the delivery of millions of pounds worth of savings, insist they will do everything they can to redeploy staff.

Initial plans, going before the trust’s board today (Thursday), involve the out-sourcing of around 35 payroll, pensions and human resources functions to NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) - a partnership between the Department of Health and French multinational, Steria.


Nursing Staff Cuts Linked To Higher Death Rates (Sky News: 26 February 2014)

Hospitals are experiencing higher patient death rates as a direct result of nursing cutbacks, according to a study of hospitals in England and eight other countries.
Data from 300 European hospitals shows that every extra patient added to a nurse's workload increases the risk of death within a month of surgery by 7%. The level of training the nurse had undergone also had an impact, the study said, with university degrees going a long way towards making up for reduced staffing levels. [...] Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: "It is worrying to see that researchers found the mean ratio of patients to nurses in England is above eight, as we know that this can compromise patient safety. "The RCN has also expressed concern at the skills mix in UK hospitals as trusts get rid of more senior nurses to save money, meaning there is far less experience on many wards, and the full extent of this will be revealed in our upcoming Frontline First report."

Poll reveals 'unhappy' nurses tempted to seek overseas employment (Daily Mirror, Feb 16th 2014)

More than half of NHS nurses want to quit their jobs, a shocking new survey has revealed. The poll, which highlights ­plummeting morale in the health service, saw many admit they were tempted to leave the UK to work overseas instead. Brits in the job are highly sought after in countries such as Australia and Dubai where they can often earn upwards of £10,000 a year more than they do here. Just one in seven said they were happy in their role and more than half admitted they would leave if they could.

Nicola Bullen, of TMP Worldwide, behind the poll of 1,600 nurses, said organisations needed to boost their reputations to recruit top talent. Senior nurses urged employers to offer quality training and career development to help bring in and retain the best staff.

NHS care watchdog warns of 'alarming' culture amongst staff (The Independent, 1st February 2014)

The NHS will “go bust” without radical change to drive up standards and rid hospitals of a “toxic” bullying culture that damages patient care, the head of its official regulator has warned.

David Prior, the chairman of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), says the safety of the most vulnerable patients is being jeopardised by a “dysfunctional” rift between NHS managers and clinical staff.

In an article for The Telegraph, he warns of an “alarming” culture within the NHS. He discloses that one in four staff have reported bullying, harassment or abuse from colleagues and managers, while whistleblowers are ostracised. The NHS often “delights” in the “ritual humiliation” of those who are deemed to have failed, he adds. Without “transformational change”, he says, including greater private-sector involvement, hospital mergers and an end to pointless targets, the health service risks going “bust”.

A series of scandals has shaken public trust in the health service, not least at Stafford Hospital where there were hundreds of “excess” deaths as patients suffered appalling maltreatment and neglect. Last year, a public inquiry into the Stafford scandal heard how a nurse who tried to tell hospital managers that waiting times were being manipulated was threatened and left afraid to travel alone.

Police are also investigating claims that staff at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust were “pressured or bullied” into falsifying waiting list data and hiding long waits for cancer patients. In his article, Mr Prior highlights the treatment of whistleblowers, saying the NHS is failing to listen to those who challenge poor care and champion the rights of patients. He says those who try to speak out are too often “ostracised” by their colleagues and managers. On bullying, he reveals the results of a survey of 100,000 NHS staff which found one in four had complained about their treatment.

Shortage of midwives putting patients at risk (The Guardian: 31 January 2014)

The safety of pregnant women and their babies during childbirth may be being put at risk by a lack of NHS funding and a national shortage of 2,300 midwives, a committee of MPs has said. In a highly critical report on the state of maternity care, the Commons public accounts committee criticised the Department of Health and NHS England for being unable to explain who is accountable for ensuring that the NHS has enough nursing staff trained to deal with childbirth. Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, said: "There is evidence that many maternity services are running at a loss, or at best breaking even, and that the available funding may be insufficient for trusts to employ enough midwives and consultants to provide high quality, safe care.

NHS spending on temporary locum doctors in A&E up 60%, says Labour (The Guardian: 14 January 2014)

Labour has blamed the coalition's NHS reforms for a surge in the use of temporary locum doctors in A&E wards at the cost of £83m a year. Labour figures show spending on locum doctors has shot up by 60% since 2009, with some paid up to £1,500 for a shift. The College of Emergency Medicine said it was not a sensible way of spending money.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said the government did not listen to warnings about a looming shortage of emergency medicine doctors because it was "obsessed" with shaking up the health service structure. 

"My diagnosis is that the full consequences of the government's reorganisation of the NHS are now being felt," Burnham told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "Three years ago, the government was explicitly warned about this problem by the College of Emergency Medicine, but they have described feeling like John the Baptist in the wilderness. The government simply was not listening because it was completely focused – obsessed, in fact – on its reorganisation."

Staff bullying concerns raised about largest NHS trust (BBC News: 14 January 2014)

Staff members at all levels and across all sites of England's largest hospital trust have expressed concerns about being bullied, a report has shown. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found "staff morale was low" at hospitals run in central and east London by the Barts Health NHS Trust.

A Barts Health NHS Trust spokeswoman said the report was "tough but fair". The trust has a workforce of 14,000 and serves an area with a population of about 2.5 million people. The CQC inspected the quality of care provided by Barts Health NHS Trust across three acute hospitals, three specialist hospitals and two birthing centres in central and east London.

In November, it inspected the Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross University Hospital, Newham University Hospital, the London Chest Hospital, St Bartholomew's Hospital, Mile End Hospital, the Barkantine Birthing Centre and the Barking Birthing Centre. The CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: "We found that Barts Health NHS Trust was, in the main, providing services that were safe. "On a more negative note, we found that staff morale was low," he added.

Elsewhere, the report said that three warning notices issued to Whipps Cross Hospital, in east London, in June 2013, had been lifted following the inspection. But it said staffing levels were "variable" across the trust's services and that equipment was "not always readily available" which "placed patients at risk of harm".

The Royal College of Nursing responded to the report saying: "The report repeats serious warnings about the staffing levels at Barts Health and says explicitly that problems with bullying, stress and low morale have to be addressed if the trust are to achieve their vision. "It is hard to see how this is reconciled with the trust's decision to cut 200 nursing posts before Christmas and cut pay for several hundred more."

Five hundred NHS Direct jobs at risk (The Guardian: 6 January 2014)

Hundreds of staff at a failed provider to NHS 111 have been warned that they face losing their jobs in the coming months.The 111 line has been riddled with teething problems since its inception on 1 April last year and was thrown into turmoil in July when NHS Direct announced it was planning to pull out of its contracts because of severe financial problems. It announced in October it is to close at the end of the financial year. A spokesperson for NHS Direct said on Monday that it had written to about 500 employees, including around 140 nurses, giving them formal notice that they are at risk of redundancy at the end of March.


7,000 key clinical staff made redundant since 2010 election (The Guardian: 31 December 2013)

An "arbitrary" straitjacket on the NHS's budget by Whitehall is leading to job losses, recruitment freezes and inadequate care for patients, the leader of the country's doctors warns on Tuesday. Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association, said forcing the NHS in England to make £20bn of "efficiency gains" by 2015 at a time of rising demand for healthcare was wrong and damaging. Porter was speaking to the Guardian after the Department of Health (DH) admitted that 7,060 NHS clinical staff, such as doctors and nurses, have been made redundant since the coalition took power in 2010, at the same time as David Cameron was pledging to protect the service's frontline from cuts.


NHS Scotland ‘forcing nurses to work for free’ (The Scotsman: 10 December 2013)

The NHS in Scotland is close to breaking point, with most nurses claiming they are forced to work overtime to meet patient needs, a new report has found. A majority of nurses say patient care is suffering because of the pressure they are under, according to a staff survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Nearly 2,000 nursing posts have been axed in Scotland in recent years. The survey finds that 54 per cent of nurses are working beyond their contracted hours each week in order to meet demands, with 58 per cent saying they are under too much pressure. More than half (55 per cent) say they are not providing the level of care they want to as the pressure builds, according to the survey of 1,681 nurses.


NHS job cuts harming patient care and safety, say staff (The Independent: 10 December 2013)

NHS job cuts have harmed hospital care and patient safety, according to more than half of UNISON union members working in the health service have reported. A survey of nurses, midwives, paramedics, and social care staff carried out by the union, which represents nearly half a million health sector workers, found that nearly two thirds had experienced staffing cuts in their department in recent months. 55 per cent said they believed cuts had “significantly impacted on patient care and safety”. The survey also found that two in five NHS workers represented by the union believe the health service is at risk of privatisation. NHS bodies have made redundancies totalling more than 10,000 in the past three years, and the Royal College of Nursing has reported that then health service is operating with 20,000 fewer nurses than required, because positions vacated by staff retiring or moving on are not being refilled. 


Staffing crisis looming for NHS in Scotland (The Scotsman: 03 December 2013)

Hospitals in Scotland are facing a growing staffing problem, with many struggling to fill vacancies for doctors and nurses, health leaders have warned. While workforce numbers in the NHS have increased in the past year, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland yesterday warned the levels were still lower than four years ago and more than 1,700 posts for nurses were still vacant. (...) The latest workforce statistics revealed there were 134,171 whole-time equivalent (WTE) staff in place at the end up September – up 1.8 per cent since the same time last year and 0.6 per cent higher than in June. Nursing and midwifery staff rose 2 per cent in a year to 57,368, while consultants were up 2.4 per cent to 4,584. However the figures, published by Information Services Division Scotland, also revealed large increases in vacancies for both nurses and doctors. The number of vacant posts for nurses and midwives increased from 1,391 in September last year to 1,785 this year, with 396 posts vacant for more than three months. For consultants, vacancies rose from 143 to 213 in the same period, with 60 vacant for more than six months.


'Unacceptable' that only half of NHS staff took routine flu vaccination (The Independent: 02 December 2013)

NHS staff who do not take a routine flu vaccine this winter are putting frail patients' lives at risk, a leading doctor has warned. Despite a national campaign to improve uptake of the annual jab, more than half of frontline NHS workers did not get vaccinated last winter. (...) Uptake of the vaccine so far this winter has been higher than last year, with 35 per cent of all NHS frontline staff vaccinated in September and October - up from 28.4 per cent in the same time period last year. Overall, 45.6 per cent of staff chose to have the vaccine during winter 2012/13. Dean Royles, chief executive of NHS Employers, which has led national efforts to improve coverage, said that 5,000 staff had been vaccinated everyday so far this winter and predicted that record numbers of staff would be vaccinated this year.


Thousands of North East NHS staff attacked at work (The Chronicle Live: 30 November 2013)

Thousands of life-saving NHS staff have been subjected to vicious attacks over the past 12 months, new figures have revealed. It has been revealed that a total of 4,183 assaults were made against employees going about their everyday business at health trusts throughout the region. Yet only 72 criminal sanctions were made during the period of April 2012 and March 2013. The new figures came as NHS Protect released figures for reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England. Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust was shown to have the highest number of staff physical assaults, with a total of 3,372. Health chiefs insisted that initiatives had been put in place to tackle the problem, including working with NHS Protect on a pilot scheme to ensure that all violence is recorded centrally in the Security Incidents Reporting System.


Four hospitals understaffed, says NHS watchdog (The Guardian: 21 November 2013)

New in-depth inspections of four hospitals by the NHS watchdog have uncovered understaffing, problems in A&E, inadequate care of older people and patients facing long waits for treatment. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors, using recently beefed-up powers to assess hospitals' performance, found most cause for concern at Croydon University hospital in south London. Although a new management team has made improvements, the CQC found that some outpatient clinics were poorly organised and significant numbers of older patients being discharged in the evening. "Inspectors were also concerned about low staffing levels affecting patient care, especially in wards for older people," said the CQC. The regulator has told the hospital to improve its A&E department because of "significant staffing problems" there and the unit's poor layout. A major recruitment drive means the vacancy rate among A&E nurses will have fallen from 49% earlier this year to 19% by January, while four more consultant posts have been created to help cope with demand, the hospital said.


Are there enough nurses in the NHS? (The BBC: 19 November 2013)

According to official data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, there are just under 307,000 midwives and nurses working in England (in terms of full-time equivalent posts). Once you strip out the midwives, health visitors and school nurses, which are not employed by the NHS, there are about 275,000 nurses working across the health service in both hospitals and community services. That represents a drop of 6,000 - or 2% - since the election. (...) Work by the Royal College of Nursing suggests the NHS may actually be as many as 20,000 nurses short of what it needs. But it is not just about numbers. Skill mix is important too. For example, some nurses can prescribe, some can't. The support they receive from healthcare assistants varies too. Some do no nursing roles, while others have been trained to change dressings and monitor a patient's vital signs. As in any work environment a mix of experienced and junior staff is needed.


Hunt orders hospitals to publish ward staffing levels every month (The Guardian: 19 November 2013)

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, will introduce monthly mandatory reporting of numbers of staff on hospital wards but will reject a fixed minimum nurse-patient ratio. Hunt's proposal is in response to the Francis report commissioned in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire scandal, where hundreds of patients died amid appalling failings in care. He will propose that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) be required to draw up a "toolkit" suggesting minimum staffing levels in wards according to the size of ward, acuteness of patient illness, age profile and other factors. NHS trusts will then be required by law to publish the staffing in each ward – and will be subject to an immediate health inspection by the Care Quality Commission if they are not meeting the guidelines. The Safe Staffing Alliance, which includes the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the Patients Association, backs the idea of a fixed staff ratio of no more than eight patients to one nurse. But Hunt's aides regard support for a fixed ratio as a mistake since they believe it was "Labour's target culture" that led to failures at institutions such as Mid Staffs. The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, has not backed a fixed ratio.


NHS 111 emergency helpline faces a crisis over Christmas, leaked memo reveals (Daily Mirror: 17 November 2013)

The new NHS phoneline for people needing urgent help faces a crisis over Christmas, a leaked memo has revealed. It shows bosses fear calls to the 111 number will soar by 400 per cent – with staffing levels already dangerously low. (...) Our whistleblower, at the Wakefield-based Yorkshire 111 service, was ­horrified by the managers’ email. It warns calls could soar from 2,300 to 8,000 on Boxing Day. Just 50 call handlers were on the rota that day though 130 are needed. Only 10 medically trained advisers are due in. And our insider said he feared the situation would be similar across England. He said: “It shows the whole service is understaffed and underfunded. It will be the same across the country.”


NHS crisis: Attacks on staff leap alarmingly as Government cuts bite (Daily Mirror: 14 November 2013)
Damaging cuts in the NHS are being blamed for a shocking rise in abuse suffered by over-stretched healthcare assistants. A survey revealed nine out of 10 HCAs have been the victim of aggression or violence in the past 12 months as they struggle on wards ­crippled by David Cameron’s flawed economic strategies. There are around 300,000 HCAs in the country, who can earn as little as £14,000 a year – yet they provide 60% of contact with patients. This means they often bear the brunt of verbal and physical abuse from frustrated patients and families. The Tory-led Coalition’s bid to slash £20bn from the health service means thousands of staff have either been sacked or not replaced when they leave a hospital. Conflict resolution training for junior staff has also been drastically cut back. The study by UNISON found the rise in aggression and violence coupled with low morale means two-in-five HCAs have thought about quitting in the past year.


NHS job losses: Hundreds more set for axe in latest wave of Government cuts (Daily Mirror: 13 November 2013)

Hundreds of NHS staff were facing the axe yesterday in the latest round of Government cuts. A new redundancy consultation started for Primary Care Support services (PCS) across England and there are 885 clerical jobs at risk. The move came on the day the Mirror revealed savage Tory cuts were putting patient lives at risk, with the NHS operating with 20,000 fewer nurses than it needs. The Royal College of Nursing found one in 20 posts were not being filled due to the bid to slash £20 billion from the health budget. (...) NHS bodies had made 2,394 redundancies in 2012-13. That followed an estimated 5,600 in 2010-11 and 2,100 in 2011-12 - bringing the total to more than 10,000. A further 3,841 left through “natural attrition”.


More than 1,200 nurse posts vacant in the region - say Royal College of Nursing (The Northern Echo: 12 November 2013)

A NURSING union is warning of an impending workforce crisis in the NHS after a survey showed that hospital trusts in the region had 1,204 vacant nursing posts. The findings for the North-East and Cumbria were part of a national report published today (MON) showing there are nearly 20,000 nursing vacancies currently unfilled in England. The Royal College of Nursing said this "hidden workforce crisis" could have serious consequences for the NHS. Figures show that while official numbers show the NHS in England has lost 3,859 full-time nurses, midwives and health visitors since May 2010, the scale of the problem of understaffing is far larger. New research showed an average six per cent vacancy rate in nursing posts - replicated across the NHS this would amount to nearly 20,000 full time equivalent nursing vacancies.


Heart boy, 7, died because there weren't enough staff at hospital on a bank holiday (Daily Mail: 11 November 2013)

A seven-year-old boy died in a short-staffed hospital ward on Good Friday because nurses were 'unconcerned' about a massive internal bleed following surgery, an inquest heard today. Luke Jenkins, who was born with half a heart, went into hospital to have his third and final corrective operation at Bristol Children’s Hospital on March 30 2012. But a report revealed that a series of errors - including staff being unaware where the resuscitation equipment was when he suffered cardiac arrest - contributed to his death. Luke was expected to make a full recovery, but he lost almost two litres of blood following the operation. He was moved out of intensive care and into a high dependency unit a day after the operation - despite his parent’s claim they were told he should remain there for three days.


Midwife shortage: A THIRD of maternity wards are forced to turn away mums-to-be (Daily Mirror: 8 November 2013)

More than half of birthing units are not meeting staffing guidelines set out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Maternity wards are being shut down because of staff shortages and overcrowding, a damning report has revealed. More than half of birthing units are not meeting staffing guidelines set out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Whitehall’s spending watchdog found. Almost a third, 28% were forced to turn away mums-to-be because of a lack of space or shortage of midwives between April and September last year. And more than one in 10 were closed for a total of a fortnight or more, the National Audit Office discovered. The number of midwives has risen since the election but not by as many as David Cameron promised. There is now a shortfall of about 2,300, the NAO warned. The mounting pressure on maternity units comes as the cost of insurance against compensation claims have hit £482 million – the equivalent of £700 per birth. And there are huge differences in outcomes for new mums and babies while one in 133 youngsters are stillborn or die within their first week of life.


NHS could be facing its 'worst winter yet' (The Telegraph: 5 November 2013)

A doctor has warned that A&E departments could be under pressure this winter because of overcrowding and an urgent need to address staffing shortages. Soaring demand, a shortage of doctors and "toxic" overcrowding on hospital warns could make this the "worst winter yet" for NHS accident and emergency departments, a senior consultant has warned. Bernadette Garrihy, a member of the board of the College of Emergency Medicine, said doctors were concerned about their ability to provide "a safe and quality service" this winter and advised patients to only attend casualty departments "as a last resort." (...) A report by the NHS Confederation has already forecast an increase in the number of cancelled operations and waiting times as the service buckles under the strain this winter. Senior managers taking part in a poll for the report were pessimistic about the NHS' ability to cope this winter after waiting times were the worst in nine years last year.


NHS on the brink of extinction (Tribune Magazine: 21 October 2013)

In past 21 months, £10.7 billion worth of our NHS has been put up for sale, while 35,000 NHS staff have been axed, including 5,600 nurses. Half of our 600 ambulance stations are earmarked for closure. One-third of NHS walk-in centres have been closed and 10 per cent of accident and emergency units have been shut. The A&E departments are performing at a 10-year low. The morale of the NHS family is at rock bottom. Their pay has now been frozen for two years under the coalition, and they have also been forced to accept a major downgrading of their pension benefits. Freezing and squeezing pay is heaping financial misery on more than a million NHS workers. At the same time, the NHS is going through a massive reorganisation, with staff having to deal with job cuts, rationing and ever-increasing patient numbers. What kind of message does all this send to health workers about the value this Government places on their work ? And what incentive is there for young people to join the NHS when those who currently work in it are so undervalued?


NHS staff deserve so much better than they are getting from millionaire ministers and their cavalier cost-cutting (Daily Mirror: 18 October 2013)

When you have to worry about your health, you don’t have to worry about the bills. Our taxes take care of that. But the day of my operation coincided with Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ratting on a Coalition pledge to give health service employees a 1% pay rise – after two years of wage freeze and a cut of 5,000 nurses. He told their Pay Review Body that an average increase of £200-£300 a year was “unaffordable”. The Tories can afford £3billion for a top-down NHS reorganisation that nobody wants – and a £500million tax bribe for married couples. He also claimed that everybody in the NHS gets a 2-3% “automatic” pay rise every year. Untrue. (...) The last four weeks have taught me just how dedicated and hard working are the men and women (especially the women) who work in our NHS. They deserve better than the cavalier cost-cutting of politicians who are all on private health insurance.


NHS fills nursing shortage by turning to Spain and Portugal (The Independent: 14 October 2013)

A shortage of British-trained nurses is forcing NHS hospital trusts to look for staff overseas as they struggle to keep wards adequately staffed. At least 40 of the 105 hospital trusts in England that responded to a Freedom of Information request by Nursing Times have actively recruited staff from abroad in the past 12 months. A further 41 trusts said they planned to recruit nurses from overseas in the next 12 months. Nearly 1,000 of the 1,360 recent recruits from overseas came from Spain and Portugal. Many trusts have sent nursing managers to recruitment fairs on the Continent. Nottingham University Hospitals Trust currently has around 200 vacancies for nurses. Maria Bentley, who oversees recruitment, said: “We are definitely in the midst of a nursing shortage. It has become more acute over the last year but it’s been going in a general direction over the last couple of years. In the last six months we are just not getting applicants.” She blamed competition for staff from private and community providers, large numbers of nurses approaching retirement and a lack of training places.


Ambulance staff shortages put more pressure on 999 staff, paramedic claims (The Bolton News: 14 October 2013)

Staff shortages are also said to be adding to the growing pressures on paramedics in Bolton. The anonymous staff member claimed the shortage of paramedics at NWAS meant they have less time to carry out the safety checks during shift hand-overs. The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust — which runs the service in Bolton — admitted there have been about 70 vacancies for paramedics in Greater Manchester. The trust says it has launched a recruitment drive to tackle the problem and bring vacancies down to 30 by December.


'No ifs, No buts, No NHS cuts!': A week on from the union health protests. (Information Daily: 8 October 2013)

Exactly a week ago, members of the TUC, NUS and health service workers took to the streets of Manchester to send a message to the Conservative Party: Save Our NHS. (...) The aim of the protest was to show united opposition against the threat of an estimated 20,000 job losses, the spending cuts across health services in the UK and potential plans for privatisation. According to the government’s own figures, £5 billion will be saved by 2015 as a result of a much needed reduction in managerial and administrative staff in the health sector. However, many joining the protest believe these plans, which have been dubbed the ‘most radical in the history of the health service’, will simply damage the NHS.


It's Official: 21,000 NHS Workers axed in the last 13 weeks recorded. (The Green Benches: 13 September 2013)

The Office of National Statistics has just released data on the size of the public sector workforce as of 30 June 2013. It also compares the employment data to the last quarter which ended on 31 March 2013. The data shows that 21,000 NHS workers were axed in the 13 weeks from 1 April to 30 June. I have taken a screen dump of the data and shown it for you below in case you find it difficult to access or interpret the ONS's tables but you can confirm this yourself from the link above if you wish. I put it to you that these job losses form a larger contribution to the existing crisis in our A& E Departments than Jeremy Hunt is prepared to admit. I think the data also lends weight to the argument that the Tories are probably not the best political party one would wish to place in charge of safeguarding our NHS.


A&E departments understaffed by nearly 10%, BBC survey suggests (BBC News: 08 September 2013)

England's accident and emergency departments are understaffed on average by nearly 10%, a survey has suggested. The 101 out of 166 hospital trusts which responded to a BBC 5 live Freedom of Information request had 1,260 vacant posts. The Department of Health said A& E staffing was an ongoing problem, but action was being taken. A nursing union poll found nine out of 10 nurses working in acute and emergency care believed current pressures on A& E services were putting patients in danger. The Royal College of Nursing, which has 410,000 members, said its survey had found that 89% of nursing staff thought the people they were meant to be caring for were being put at risk, while 85% said patient safety was being compromised by the strain on the departments.


Almost two-thirds of nurses 'want to quit' due to stress (Evening Standard: 01 September 2013)

A survey of 10,000 staff by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found that 62% had thought about leaving over the last year because they are under so much stress in their job. A further 61% felt unable to give patients the care they wanted because they were too busy, while 83% believed their workload had increased in the last 12 months. Official figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre last week revealed the NHS has lost more than 5,000 nurses in just three years. As well as staff cuts, nurses have also had to endure a pay freeze between 2010 and 2012, the Mirror said, followed by a 1% cap on increases from this year until 2016. Jamie Reed, shadow health minister, said: "David Cameron's mismanagement of the NHS is putting it under huge strain. More than 5,000 nursing jobs have been lost since the election and waiting lists have reached a five-year high.


Berwick report: Danger of understaffed NHS wards can no longer be ignored after Mid Staffs scandal, Jeremy Hunt warned. (Independent: 8 August 2013)

The danger of understaffed NHS wards can no longer be ignored, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was warned, as another high profile figure review highlighted the urgent need for clear rules on safe staffing levels. Professor Don Berwick said in his long-awaited report into safety in the NHS, that new guidance to protect patients against “the dangers of inadequate staffing” needed to be set up “as soon as possible.” However, Mr Hunt said that setting national minimum safe staffing levels would create an “artificial target” and harm patient care.(...) The Government has been criticised for presiding over cuts to nursing posts. Nearly 5,000 nursing places have been cut since 2010, with 800 lost in April this year alone. While NHS England plan to recruit more than 4,100 new nurses next year – a 2 per cent increase – health watchdog Monitor has said that the recruitment drive was “a short term fix”, to be followed by a further 4 per cent cut to nursing posts over 2014-15 and 2015-16.


A&E crisis: shortage of consultants a 'considerable concern' (The Guardian: 24 July 2013)

More than 80% of accident and emergency units do not have enough consultants on duty for the 16 hours a day that is regarded as necessary to give patients high-quality care, MPs say. Emergency departments in hospitals have too few doctors to cope with their growing workload and face a recruitment crisis because young medics are increasingly put off working there by the stress and hours involved, the Commons health select committee says.

"Staffing levels in emergency departments are an area of considerable concern to the committee. They are not sufficient to meet demand, with only 17% of emergency departments managing to provide 16-hour consultant coverage during the working week," the MPs' report says. "The situation is even worse at weekends and consultant staffing levels are nowhere near meeting recommended best practice."

NHS England's plans to tackle the problems "lack sufficient urgency", the committee says.

The lack of consultants is compounding hospitals' difficulties in dealing with an increasingly complex caseload linked to the ageing population. Patients are being constantly assessed and reassessed by junior doctors, which delays what NHS England recently said should be early decisions by a senior doctor about whether they should be treated, transferred or discharged, the MPs add.

Hospital trusts have to spend an average of £500,000 each to hire locum doctors to fill rotas in A&E units because there are so many unfilled vacancies, the report says. The report comments that the new 111 telephone health advice service in England has added to the problems facing hospitals as patients, unsatisfied with their experience of it, have gone to A&E rather than seeking treatment elsewhere.


A&E staff shortage 'to cause crisis this winter': Just one in six units has enough consultants during busiest times (The Daily Mail: 24 July 2013)

MPs have warned that A&E units will not cope with the surge in patients this winter unless bosses make urgent changes. Just one in six casualty units has enough consultants working during its busiest hours and most are ‘relying too heavily’ on junior doctors. A report published today warns of an impending ‘crisis’ as more than 100,000 patients now spend at least four hours in A&E every month. It says the launch of the NHS 111 helpline made problems worse as unqualified call centre workers sent patients unnecessarily to casualty.

MPs on the health select committee say NHS bosses must quickly draw up plans on how they will cope with the expected rise in patients this winter. Their report revealed how consultants may be absent for the 16 busiest hours of the day – between 8am and midnight – in 83 per cent of casualty departments. The report comes as the number of emergency cases is soaring, with a lack of GP out-of-hours services being blamed for patients increasingly arriving at A&Es with non-urgent problems.


The price of under-staffed hospitals? (Daily Mail: 25 May 2013)

Study finds link between the thousands that die and wards with too few doctors Thousands of patients are dying due to a chronic lack of doctors in England’s worst hospitals, according to a shocking new study. Hospitals currently being investigated for having high death rates employ far fewer doctors per patient than others, academics have discovered. While many think hospitals provide similar standards of care, the Plymouth University team found wide variations in staffing levels. A&E departments are particularly stretched, warn doctors.


NHS hospital staffing levels dangerous, say nurses (Pharmatimes: 13 May 2013)

A group of nursing and patient organisations in the UK are warning that staffing levels on a number of hospital wards in the NHS in England are “unsafe”. The Safe Staffing Alliance (SSA) – which includes the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the Patients Association - says wards often have just one registered nurse looking after eight patients. The Alliance quoted a survey of almost 3,000 nurses at 31 English hospitals, which found that wards were run with a ratio of one nurse to eight patients about 40% of the time. The survey also found that almost half of nurses had seen patients suffer as a result of services being cut – but it also revealed that the majority (58%) of nurses said they were “still proud” to work for the NHS.


NHS staffing levels risk another Mid Staffordshire-style scandal - report (The Guardian: 18 April 2013)

Frontline NHS staff are so busy they do not have time to help patients eat and drink, explain treatments or keep proper records, according to a survey that has renewed calls for minimum staffing levels. Research among more than 1,500 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants also reveals that half fear that care at their hospital is so poor that a Mid Staffordshire-style scandal is either possible or already occurring. The survey found that only 31% of nurses working in the NHS across the UK on 5 March believed there were enough staff in their workplace to guarantee patients received dignified, compassionate care. "The overwhelming majority who said this also said told us that patients went without the fundamentals of care due to inadequate staffing levels. This wasn't because staff didn't care or try hard enough. They were simply understaffed and unable to provide the level of care needed", said Gail Adams, Unison's head of nursing.That meant staff also did not have enough time to, for example, reassure patients over their fears, take them to the toilet, help them to regain their mobility or even spend enough time with them as they were dying.


Warning over hospital staff with one hour's training (The Telegraph: 03 Feb 2013)

Dr Peter Carter, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said vulnerable people were being failed because hospitals rely too heavily on healthcare assistants, who were “given a uniform, then left to flounder”. Around 300,000 such workers, who are unregulated, and not required to have qualifications or training, are now employed by the health service. Hospitals have hired them in increasing numbers in a bid to limit costs, with the starting salary of £14,000 comparing to £21,000 for a junior nurse. Six years ago, on average there were two nurses employed for every assistant; now the ratio is closer to one to one.


Hospital watchdog warns 17 have unsafe staffing levels (The Guardian: 13 January 2013)

Seventeen NHS hospitals are among 26 health providers with unsafe staffing levels, according to the Care Quality Commission. The health watchdog has warned the hospitals lack enough staff in some areas to "keep people safe", after carrying out inspections as recently as November. The health providers were told they were "non-compliant" with CQC standards and did not have sufficient staff "to keep people safe and meet their health and welfare needs". Some providers failed to enable vulnerable patients to articulate their needs and in some cases they were unable to reach drinks and warm clothing. Staffing shortages, particularly among nurses, has been a concern for the NHS, highlighted by revelations that at Stafford hospital up to 1,200 patients died needlessly as managers slashed their budgets while aiming for NHS foundation trust status. A report into the scandal is due to be published in weeks.

See also:


20 doctors among hospital staff to face redundancy (The Bolton News: 27 November 2012)

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust announced 500 jobs could be lost as it tries to save money. It is more than £8 million in the red and must make £38 million savings in the next two years. The Trust has not ruled out compulsory redundancies and said although the cuts included frontline staff, the quality of care for patients would not be affected. Of the 500 redundancies, 149 are nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants. Now, a breakdown by Staff Side, which represents employees at the Trust has revealed a further breakdown. The Trust had previously said 20 medical and dental staff would be affected — the breakdown has revealed this will be 20 doctors. Other jobs at risk include 93 technical posts and therapists, 193 ward clerks and medical secretaries and 45 estates and facilities staff. A further 1,685 employees’ positions could also be under threat. They include 1,450 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, who could lose their jobs and be forced to reapply for their positions on “revised terms and conditions”.


NHS cost-cutting being put ahead of patients' welfare, claims watchdog (The Guardian: 23 November 2012)

Staffing problems in NHS hospitals are leading to patients receiving poor care and being exposed to danger from errors with their medication, the health service regulator warns in a report published on Friday that doctors' and nurses' leaders claim shows that cost-cutting is being put ahead of patients' health and welfare. Inspections of hospitals show that a lack of staff, especially those with the right skills, is a key reason why one in 10 patients are denied respect and dignity, 15% are not fed properly and 20% have their care and welfare neglected, according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The annual report by England's NHS and social care watchdog paints a picture of a service creaking under the strain of trying to provide high-quality care as demand rises while resources are increasingly stretched – a picture at odds with the government's portrayal of an NHS meeting key performance targets in difficult circumstances. One in six (16%) of the 250 hospital services inspected in 2011-12 did not meet the CQC's standard for having enough staff on duty to care properly for patients.


NHS loses another 1,000 nurses (Nursing Times: 23 November 2012)

The NHS Information Centre has published its latest monthly update on the size of NHS hospital and community health service workforce. The provisional figures suggest the total NHS workforce fell by 3,431 whole time equivalent staff between July and August, from 1,035,862 to 1,032,431. Qualified nursing and midwifery staff made up around a third of the total reduction.

The number of WTE qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff fell from 305,578 to 304,566, a drop of 1,012. When broken down further, the figures showed the number of midwives had fallen by 53, from 21,075 to 21,022, and the number of health visitors by 13, from 8,080 to 8,067. The number of WTE school nurses fell from 1,182 to 1,180, representing a drop of three. Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These numbers are further evidence of the damaging effect that cuts are having on the NHS. We have frequently stated our concerns that this level of cuts will have a long lasting and detrimental impact on patient care. The latest statistics show that the cuts to NHS staff show no sign of slowing down.”


20 nurses lose jobs as NHS beds close in North Staffordshire (This is Staffordshire: 23 Novermber 2012)

AROUND 20 nurses are to be made redundant following cuts in mental health services. They will lose their jobs with NHS Combined Healthcare as it closes 24 community beds in North Staffordshire. Around 170 staff are being affected by the changes at the area's three mental health resource centres. But union leaders and NHS watchdogs revealed some of them were being told by e-mail whether they were to be re-deployed on less wages. They say the stress has forced some nurses to burst into tears while trying to carry on caring for their patients. Eight beds have now shut at the Ashcombe Centre, in Cheddleton, and Lymebrook, in Bradwell. Eight beds will also shut at the Bennett Centre, in Shelton, on December 1. Daycare services are remaining at Ashcombe and Lymebrook.


NHS workers at three hospitals go on strike over job losses and pay cuts (The Mirror: 22 November 2012)
White-collar workers at three of the area’s NHS hospitals walked out on strike this week over job losses and salary cuts of up to 20%. These are not mindless young militants. They are middle-aged ladies – and most have not taken industrial action before. MYT faces a budget deficit of £26million by the end of the year. New interim boss Stephen Eames has axed 70 posts and wants to slash wages for nearly 300 more by up to £2,800 a year. But workers won’t take this lying down. They were picketing from dawn despite the wind and rain. These women are in A&E receptions, they sort out your appointments and they are the staff in cancer clinics. Pinderfields, Dewsbury and District and Pontefract hospitals can’t operate without them.

NHS sleepwalking into crisis (RCN: 16 November 2012)

At the halfway point in the Coalition Government, the RCN’s Frontline First campaign has identified more than 61,000 posts across the NHS in England that are now at risk or have been axed – up from 55,000 just six months ago – increasingly jeopardising patient care.  Official figures from the NHS Information Centre 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. In contrast, in the same period, the number of doctors increased by more than 7,000.

Rotherham Hospital to cut 750 jobs by 2015 (BBC News: 26 October 2012)

A hospital trust in South Yorkshire has announced it will be cutting 750 jobs, about 20% of its workforce, by 2015. Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said it needed a "smaller hospital, with substantially fewer beds" and a smaller workforce to save

Key Facts

Since the Coalition came to power in 2010 the NHS has lost as many as 6000 nursing posts.

Key Trends:

Between May 2010 and July 2012: the total NHS workforce decreased by 2%.

Within this change:

The number of doctors rose by 7.5%, qualified midwives by 5%, and qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff by 2%.

The number of qualified nurses decreased by 2%.

Largest decrease in NHS infrastructure support at 9%

A decrease in support to doctors and nursing staff by 2.5%.


Health and Social Care Information Centre Workforce Statistics
"The latest statistics show that the cuts to NHS staff show no sign of slowing down" Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing

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