The NHS have eliminated 2,380 nursing posts in the past year compared to 1,682 managers according to new NHS Information Centre figures.

While the NHS is ring-fenced from the majority of public sector cuts, it must save £20 billion in the next three years to cover care for the elderly and these latest figures show the impact this is having, although there has been a small increase in the number of midwives, health visitors and school nurses.

Ministers have suggested that the majority of cuts should be in bureacratic positions, but with 13,350 posts being removed in the last year, Janet Davies of the Royal College of Nursing says it is inevitable that a real impact will be felt on the frontline workforce.

"The pressure to save £20 billion in the NHS in England is resulting in cuts to jobs, hitting the frontline hard," she said. "These cuts are real and have been ongoing for some time."

A further area where savings could be achieved is if there is a reduction in sickness days, as the NHS IC figures also showed twice as many NHS staff are absent due to illness than those in the private sector.

The Department of Health has calculated the NHS could save £555 million per year if staff sickness rates, which now amount to 15 million 'lost' days a year, are reduced by a third.

However, an NHS spokesman pointed out that sickness levels are falling year-on-year and added: "We remain committed to work with NHS employers, trade unions and staff to promote healthy workplaces an reduce the number of sick days [to an acceptable level] by March 2013."

Posted 26/07/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com