The "planned reduction" in the number of nursing staff

Marlyn Glen

1 March 2012

The number of nursing and midwifery staff in Scotland fell once more in the last quarter of last year by 71, yet again driving the proverbial coach and horses through the SNP’s ipse dixit that they are " protecting the NHS for the duration of this Parliament."

Scotland discovered something new at the same time : the huge cuts in the number of NHS posts in recent years which arose from health boards struggling to find millions of pounds in "efficiency savings", and budgets which never matched Labour’s increases in NHS spending were part of a "planned reduction", according to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

The Health Secretary recalled that , " We have already seen a planned reduction in the numbers of hospital nurses, " while not mentioning that the "planned reduction" had been enforced planning – forced upon the NHS by the SNP Government , as part of the price of the SNP’s priority on spending of freezing the council tax for five years to benefit mostly the very well off.

The brunt of the Coalition and SNP Government cuts have been borne by NHS staff, as health boards have been forced to shed 2,000 nursing and midwifery posts in the past two years, in the name of "efficiency savings" .

In NHS Tayside, over the last three months of last year the number of clinical nurse specialists fell by 30, from 262 to 232.

Meanwhile, last November some 350 staff from the Scottish Prison Service were transferred across to the NHS and now are now counted as NHS staff.

This led to a rise in overall numbers in some health board areas such as Tayside, but despite the increase, the number of nursing and midwifery in NHS Tayside is now the lowest in three and a half years.

On the broader front, valiant health service staff will continue to struggle with less resources from tighter budgets to meet rising care demand.

£319 million in real terms will be cut from health spending over the next three years while over £3 billion will have been spent on freezing the council tax by 2016-17.

Nothing, but nothing has a higher priority for the SNP than the 5-year council tax freeze.


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