Thousands of jobs were cut from the NHS at the end of last year in what nurses called a dramatic reduction in the workforce by stealth.
Official figures on public sector employment showed that the health service lost 11,000 jobs in the final quarter of last year. These job losses accounted for half of the cuts across the whole of the public sector in that quarter, according to data from the National Office of Statistics
Howard Catton, head of policy at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said it was not known how many of the cuts resulted in redundancies and how many were posts not filled when staff left or retired.
“This is reduction of the workforce by stealth, through turnover and job deletion,” he said. “These cuts mean more work for those still in post.
“The whole NHS system is ‘running hot’. There is bed occupancy of 95 per cent, there are more patients and bed turnover is increasing.
“This means that patients are in hospital for shorter periods and that they are sicker and need more care.”
Nurses, doctors, hospital cleaners and other health workers will join a series of protests across the country to protest at cuts to NHS jobs and services.
Marches and rallies will be held in dozens of cities including London, Belfast, Manchester and Birmingham as well as towns across England and Wales.
The events are being co-ordinated by NHS Together, an alliance of unions and other organisations representing staff working in the NHS, as well as the TUC.
The aim is to defend the NHS and warn that services are under threat from deficits, the “rapid expansion” of the private sector and too much reform.