More than six thousand nursing posts have been axed since 2010, official data shows.
According to the Department of Health’s latest publication of NHS workforce statistics, there are 6,191 fewer nurses than when the coalition government came to power in May 2010.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the process of cuts “can’t continue”.
“We hear again and again of the Government’s promises that savings won’t mean cuts to frontline jobs. Yet today’s figures of over 6,000 job losses prove that this is just not the case,” he said.
“We are told repeatedly about cuts sweeping across the NHS, placing nurses under growing strain to deliver more with fewer staff.
"This process of cuts cannot continue. With patients having to wait longer and longer to be seen by a smaller number of demoralised nurses, care will suffer.”
The DH said the workforce figures do not represent all those staff who provide NHS care and only count those captured by the electronic staff record.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter responded to the RCN’s concerns, claiming that there are “always fluctuations in the NHS workforce”.
“The reality is that there are more clinical staff working in the NHS now than there were in May 2010 - including more than 7,000 more doctors, and more than 900 extra midwives,” he said.
"The number of NHS staff working in the community has risen considerably in recent years, but not all these people are taken into account by central statistics.”
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