Put care before cost, nurses tell managers

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NURSES have condemned a £10m cuts package by health chiefs in Yorkshire amid a national warning the quality of patient care could suffer as the NHS struggles to make huge savings.

The North Yorkshire cuts will see less access to treatment in hospital, the community and from GPs as officials try to rein in the deficit.

Yesterday Kevin Austerberry, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing, urged managers to “put care before cost”.

“We’re extremely worried about the direct impact on both patients, provision of care and nursing jobs,” he said. “Cutting non-critical services across the board in this way means that patients will not be supported in the early stages of illness or when they have minor conditions. In the end these measures will prove much more expensive and add extra pressure to already overstretched nursing staff.

“The NHS needs to step in to ensure that patient services are not affected and provide appropriate financial support. They must put care before cost.”

Meanwhile a new poll by the King’s Fund thinktank has revealed two-fifths of NHS finance directors surveyed expect patient care to worsen in coming years, with two thirds warning the NHS will struggle to save £20bn through efficiencies.

Researchers found more patients waiting more than four hours in A&E than for any time since 2005. Full-time NHS jobs had been cut by 27,000 since 2010, with 4,800 fewer nurses in jobs.

Health Minister Lord Howe said the NHS was on track to achieve its £20bn target, claiming “waiting times have been kept low, infections have been reduced, there are more doctors, more diagnostic tests and more planned operations”.