Nick Herbert's concern over 1,000 job losses in local NHS
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has expressed concern after a new report by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) claimed that more than 1,000 posts have been lost in NHS trusts serving West Sussex in the past 18 months.
The report states that "as of April 2007, the total number of NHS posts lost across the country due to deficits stands at 22,363." It estimates that, locally, this figure stands at more than 1,000 jobs.
According to the report, 400 posts have been lost at the Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, 200 at the Royal West Sussex NHS Trust and 400 at the Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. A further 18 posts have been lost from the West Sussex Primary Care Trust.
The jobs have been lost as local NHS trusts have moved to reduce their deficits. In spite of the cutbacks, the latest figures from the Department of Health show that three of the four acute trusts in West Sussex still face deficits.
The Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust is expected to have recorded a year-end deficit of £6.3 million by the end of the last (2006-07) financial year. Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is expected to have ended the year by £14.8 million in the red and the Worthing & Southlands Hospital Trust by more than £6 million.
However, the Royal West Sussex NHS Trust is predicted to have been successful in eradicating its deficit of £13.3 million, ending with a surplus of nearly £1.5 million.
The Royal College's report also highlights the impact that the financial crisis is having on specialist services, such as those for multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, and on rehabilitation and intermediate care services.
Many nurses have written to Mr Herbert to outline their concerns at the cuts being made to nurses' training, the difficulty facing many newly qualified nurses in obtaining posts, and the Government's below-inflation pay settlement.
A survey carried out by the RCN for its report found that almost one in five specialist nurses said that they were personally at risk of redundancy, with more than half saying that they knew of other specialist nurses in their field who were at risk of losing their jobs.
Mr Herbert's constituents have also raised concerns about the new online application scheme for junior doctors, which has led to many experienced and well-qualified young doctors with up to seven or eight years' training not being offered interviews.
Further uncertainty in the local NHS has been caused by the delay in the formal public consultation on the future of West Sussex' hospitals until after May's local elections, more than a year after the initial consultation document, "Fit for the Future", was launched by the Strategic Health Authority.
Nick Herbert commented: "The Royal College of Nursing's report confirms that, even before formal proposals on the future of our local hospitals are finally published, we are already seeing cuts in local NHS jobs and services.
"Local people will ask why, when spending on the NHS has doubled in the last ten years, these cuts are being made. The mismanagement of taxpayers' money has been shocking."
Notes for Editors
1. The Royal College of Nursing Report, Our NHS - today and tomorrow, can be found at http://www.rcn.org.uk/publications/pdf/003155.pdf. The lost NHS posts are whole-time equivalents.
2. The predicted deficits for NHS trusts in England an Wales can be found at http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_065963.