Socialist Worker

Nurses jeer at Andrew Lansley's lies

The Tories are hellbent on destroying the national health service—but far-fetched soundbites won’t quell workers’ anger at snowballing job cuts, writes Julie Sherry

Issue No. 2303

Delegates at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference jeered in derision at health minister Andrew Lansley last week.

He had the cheek to claim that clinical staffing levels in the NHS have increased.

He spouted this lie as the RCN published the results of a damning survey on the impact of NHS cuts.

Before the 2010 election the Tories littered Britain with billboards showing David Cameron promising: “I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS”.

But the RCN study found that 60,000 health service jobs have been “lost” or “placed at risk” since 2010. It showed that health workers who remain are forced to treat patients in corridors on a daily basis.

The Tories are the architects of £20 billion of NHS “efficiency savings”.

Lansley claimed they would “ensure that the sick do not pay for the debt crisis”.

But his Health and Social Care Act has further opened up the NHS to privatisation.

Every union and professional organisation hates the act. Last year the RCN passed an overwhelming vote of no confidence in Lansley at its annual conference.

This year the mood at RCN conference intensified.

The RCN study also found that nine out of ten NHS community nurses saw their caseload rise over the last year.

Meanwhile 59 percent said they were now spending less time with patients.

And just 7 percent of the NHS government’s cuts package has been implemented.

Julian, a student nurse and RCN member, told Socialist Worker, “The strain on nurses is obvious. There’s been one nurse cut per shift on my placement.

“It’s much harder to learn from someone managing eight patients rather than four, especially when they’re also expected to run a shift. The cuts are making the job extremely difficult.”

Nurses are forced to treat people in corridors due to a lack of beds.

Over half of those working in A&E said this happens every day. One in five said it occurs hourly.

The last decade saw a 60 percent rise in numbers attending A&E. In that time hospital bed numbers have dropped by 22 percent.

That’s why 86 percent of nurses said patients were being discharged from hospital more quickly in the last year.

No wonder Lansley was laughed at when he suggested nurses should say if staffing levels were unsafe. Angry cries of “liar” broke out over his speech.

Union branches and anti-cuts campaigns should build on this mood, and organise a fightback for the NHS.

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Tue 15 May 2012, 16:57 BST
Issue No. 2303
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