The retracted public expenditure has put the NHS under “severe pressure”, according to Unison, the largest public sector union. The union has described the NHS as fund “starved”, and the lack of public spending “dragging” the service back to the 1980s and 1990s.
Unison’s survey of over 8,000 staff indicated the degree to which hospitals are downsizing: recruitment is being frozen, posts are being cut and services are being outsourced or cut completely. More patients are being treated by fewer staff, says Unison.
The survey found that almost one-third of respondents blamed efficiency savings for the poorer quality of patient care. Around 80% reported an increase in workload, while 77% reported greater stress in the last year. 50% of respondents said they were dealing with staff shortages.
Unison’s Head of Health, Karen Jennings says the cuts in health spending could have severe consequences. She cites the scandal-ridden Stafford Hospital as an example of the dangers that staff shortages can pose to patient care.
“Government cuts threaten to undo and reverse the benefits of all the investment and hard work that has gone into turning the NHS around over the past 13 years. We have been able to train our own nurses instead of scouring third world countries to fill shortages”.
Ms. Jennings has called the current situation a “worrying reversal” of the NHS’ progress.