RCN warns that small increase in NHS budget will feel like a cut

Dr Peter Carter, the Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said that “We welcome the government’s commitment to a real-terms increase in National Health Service funding. However, the reality is that this small increase at a time of soaring demand and the rising costs of health care, will still feel like a cut. The NHS in England is already been asked to make £20bn of efficiency savings and the spending review is likely to lead to further strain on health care services as job losses mount up and benefits are squeezed. Previous times of financial difficulties have shown that it is often the most vulnerable in society who suffer the brunt of these severe cuts. We are realistic about the significant financial challenges the nation faces, however we urge policy makers to keep in touch with what is happening on the ground across the public sector.

Hospital Department Closures

Recently the Queen Mary’s Sidcup Trust announced that it is to shut its emergency and maternity departments due to staff shortage at junior and middle grade level. Dr Chris Streather, the Trusts Chief Executive said that \”A clinical safety review carried out by independent senior clinicians commissioned by NHS London across all of our sites, and supported by the Trust\’s medical and nursing directors, has concluded that there are significant safety risks, particularly in regard to a serious shortage of emergency medicine middle and junior grade doctors, and midwives. We can\’t take a risk that this situation would become unsustainable during the winter months. This review makes clear that this presents an unacceptable level of risk to patients and we therefore regret the need to recommend to the Trust Board a planned temporary closure of the A&E and maternity Units at Queen Mary\’s while the Trust attempts to redress these issues through continued recruitment efforts, and discussions with the deaneries in relation to the provision of junior clinicians. We have asked all of our neighbouring Trusts for assistance but none are able to provide the clinical support that is necessary.\”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that \”Patient safety and high quality care must remain the priority for the NHS. The A&E and obstetric services at Queen Mary\’s should temporarily close while there are concerns that they don\’t meet the high standards that patients deserve. The Secretary of State has pledged that, in future, all service changes must be led from the bottom up by clinicians, patients and local authorities with an improved focus on quality. The goal of any change to services must be to ensure patients get the best care possible, delivered to the highest standards in the most effective, efficient and personalised way.”

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