Student nurses are the latest group to be hit by NHS job cuts as trusts attempt to claw back a £1.2 billion deficit.
A survey last week revealed that 80 percent of graduating student nurses have not yet secured an appointment. The figure last year was just 30 percent.
Kate Hambleton is a first year student nurse at Middlesex university in London. She told Socialist Worker, “If you end up in this situation where there are no NHS jobs, people will get driven towards the private sector. But many nurses, like me, believe strongly in the NHS.
“There may be money going into the health service, but it is eaten up by the private sector, and then trusts are told to make efficiency savings.”
Health secretary Patricia Hewitt claims that the cuts will not affect patient care. But Kate disagrees. “Research shows that the higher the ratio of registered nurses to patients, the better the healthcare provided,” she said.
Now registered nurses are being forced to work as healthcare assistants - a less well paid role. “It’s enough to make you want to leave the service altogether,” said Kate. “Perhaps they just want to get registered nurses working as healthcare assistants as a source of cheap labour.”
The revelations about the lack of jobs for graduating nurses came as pressure group Health Emergency produced a new dossier showing that over 17,000 jobs have been cut from the NHS since February.
Geoff Martin, campaigns officer for Health Emergency, said, “The department of health think we’re a real pain.
“They’ve been claiming that our figures are unreliable. Last week when we said there had been 1,000 job losses up to Thursday they challenged our figure.
“But when pressed they had to admit that the real figure was even higher, which was a real embarrassment for them.”
The government accuses Health Emergency of “causing distress” for NHS employees, but, said Geoff, “With all these job cuts they seem perfectly capable of doing that themselves.”
For more from Health Emergency go to www.healthemergency.org.uk