Despite repeated assurances from the new coalition Government that frontline healthcare staff would be safe from cuts and that budgets were ‘ring-fenced’, the nurses and midwives we asked are reporting a different situation.
290 Registered Nurses and Midwives took part in the survey, and 63% said they had noticed cuts in either staffing levels or resources since the 2010 budget was announced. A similar majority also felt it was likely or possible that they would lose their jobs as redundancies were made.
While some public sector departments will have to suffer cuts of up to 40%, the NHS is expected to save £20bn by 2014. Some would argue this is a tiny proportion of its whopping £110bn budget for 2010/11, and that the NHS should bear more of the load placed on the public sector by budget cuts. However, frontline healthcare staff were never meant to be affected by redundancies and yet 65% of those we asked said they felt just that way.
Nurses stressed and anxious
We also asked the nurses and midwives that participated what the general feeling was of their colleagues around them, and nearly half of all responses was ‘stressed’. The other top responses were anxious, tired and unsure.
There were comparatively few responses that indicated a positive feeling among colleagues, with only 10 people describing them as optimistic and only 1 as bubbly.
In our previous survey about the budget, the nurses and midwives that took part indicated the most pressing issue to be addressed immediately was the chronic understaffing of frontline services. However, it would seem that these concerns have not been addressed, since cuts are still being introduced. It was recently reported in the national press that over 25 NHS trusts have plans for compulsory redundancies with several others choosing options such as closing wards in order to save money.
Frontline staff don’t want redundancy offers
Anyone who becomes a nurse or a midwife has to be committed to the lifestyle and to the work. Most of the healthcare professionals we talk to say it’s a way of life, not a job, so it would be expected that the majority do not want to consider a redundancy package. In fact, just under 47% would say no to redundancy or would try and move departments to stay employed.
In a recent survey conducted by the RCN, it found that 9,973 posts have already been lost by trusts across the country through recruitment freezes, redundancies and not replacing staff when they retire. These policies has been termed ‘short-sighted’ by some who feel it will not only damage the quality and availability of patient care in the short term, but the long term future as well.
Potential increase in retirement age
A review of all public sector pensions was announced in the budget, the findings of which will be implemented by the 2011 budget. Nearly 60% of the nurses and midwives we asked felt that an increase in the retirement age was likely, as is an increase in contributions and the removal of all final salary pension scheme entitlements.
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