Quickening and "dangerous" job cuts will plunge the NHS into crisis, it is warned.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the pace of job losses in the NHS has risen by over 50% since it began its tracking in April 2010.
Just over 48,000 NHS posts are set to be cut or have already been lost in the last 19 months - 18,156 of which were lost from May this year.
An analysis of 41 trusts in England shows clinical posts account for almost half of total workforce cuts, with nursing making up a third of NHS job losses.
RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dr Peter Carter described the figures as 'deeply worrying'.
"Cutting staff numbers by up to a quarter and axing a third of nursing posts will undoubtedly have a deep and potentially dangerous impact on patient care," he said.
"Staffing levels should be based on rigorous clinical evidence and should not be arbitrarily lowered in a short-sighted effort to save money."
The RCN is currently working with Peers in the House of Lords to table amendments to the Health Bill in a bid to ensure mandatory safe staffing levels.
The Royal College of Nursing
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