The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has challenged the government’s plans to transfer up to 250,000 health workers out of the NHS.
A document by NHS chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp released in July proposed that services provided by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) should be “reduced to a minimum”.
Currently PCTs receive 75 percent of the health budget and commission healthcare for NHS patients, as well as providing basic health services — ranging from district nurses through to speech and language therapists.
Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has come under intense pressure from trade unions, health professionals, campaigners and backbench Labour MPs over the plans.
Last week she appeared to backtrack on the proposal to move clinical staff out of the NHS. She said, “District nurses… and other staff delivering clinical services will continue to be employed by their PCT unless and until the PCT decides otherwise.”
But now the RCN has asked for clarification of the situation. Despite Hewitt’s comments, the instruction to PCTs to scale down their role providing health services has not been withdrawn.
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