The Royal College of Nursing has refuted government claims that RCN figures on cuts to nursing posts amounts to scaremongering and is based on unreliable evidence.
Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, has written to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley saying that figures included in the RCN’s recent Frontline First report were checked and verified.
The Frontline First report stated that more than 56,000 NHS nursing posts have been lost or are at risk.
In his letter to Mr Lansley, Dr Carter says: “I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the data we produced was properly sourced and verified, and we put in a great deal of time and effort to ensure the legitimacy of these figures. Furthermore, whether a post is deleted, frozen, or a member of staff is made redundant, the impact on the ground for patients remains the same.”
Dr Carter claims all figures in the report were subjected to a strict verification process.
“We only include cuts in our figures for which we have reliable evidence. In addition, we use our network of staff and activists across the UK to find out if trusts are disputing the figures we have identified or have changed their plans.”
Dr Carter went on to outline the source of the figures the RCN used in the report, pointing out that in some cases they come from trusts’ own documents and press releases.
He concluded: “The RCN fully understands the Government has repeatedly pledged to protect the frontline and achieve the ‘Nicholson Challenge’ through efficiency savings and other measures. Unfortunately, our intelligence gathered from members and evidence we have uncovered shows that this message is not being heard locally by managers who, as our report proves, are making short term cuts to staff and services.”