Despite spending more than £11 billion next year the NHS in Scotland plans to cut the cost of nursing – by £12 million in Glasgow alone. Maybe this is because they have to pay higher bonuses to the 1200 staff each earning more than £100k, the total bill for which exceeds £300 million.
The Telegraph reports Scotland’s largest health board makes £12 million of nursing cuts.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) said unqualified support staff will be trained to take on some lower-level duties currently carried out by nurses.
Health board chiefs refused to say how many jobs would be lost, but the cuts will be achieved through “natural wastage and staff retirement”.
They insisted patient care would not be affected, but nursing leaders said allowing assistants to carry out the duties of fully-qualified staff could put people at risk.
Anne Thomson, of The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Scotland, confirmed the body was “firmly opposed to the plan”.
“RCN Scotland would be extremely concerned about any reduction in the number of registered nurses, and we have met with the board and other unions to discuss their proposals,” she said.
“We know that health boards across Scotland are facing difficult times because of the recession, but quality patient care and front line services must not be sacrificed for the sake of balancing the books.
“While nursing assistants are extremely important in supporting registered nurses to deliver safe patient care, using them to substitute large numbers of registered nurses could put patients at risk.”
Opposition parties accused SNP ministers of lumbering health boards with a poor funding settlement, forcing them to make staff redundant.
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour health spokesman, said: “The SNP government made a deliberate choice to give the NHS its worst financial settlement since devolution. Now we are seeing the consequences.
“It is simply unacceptable that Scotland’s biggest health board should be forced to consider denying patients new treatments or making staff redundant to balance the books. This will inevitably have an impact on front line patient care.”
But NHS GGC said the cuts took account of changing working practices, with 70 per cent of patients needing elective surgery attending hospital as a day patient.
Rosslyn Crocket, the health board’s nurse director, said: “Previously, patients would have come in and stayed overnight for two or three days, so, because we’ve had that change that means we need less nurses in the wards to cover 24 hours a day.”
“What we’re planning is working towards having an all-trained staff within the ward.
That means all the registered nurses going through the universities and it also means all the support staff for the nurses will go through a form of training.”
She said there would be no cut in the number of staff on wards, only a small change in the kind of workers employed.
A Scottish Executive spokesman said: “The reality is that the NHS budget is rising next year in real terms to a record £11.347 billion, even as Scotland’s overall budget is falling in real terms because of Westminster cuts.
“As a government, we have prioritised and protected health in our draft budget for 2010-11 in the toughest financial circumstances since devolution, precisely because of the top priority we attach to Scotland’s NHS.”