Scrapping the Health Bill now will save 6,000 nursing jobs, the Labour party claims.
In a visit to the Princess Royal University Hospital in Kent, Labour Leader Ed Miliband will today (6 February) announce new figures, obtained by the party, showing the number of NHS nurses has now fallen by 3,500 since the 2010 general election.
This figure could rise to at least 6,000 by the end of this Parliament, it is warned.
“In tough times and with little money around the very first priority should be to protect the frontline NHS,” Miliband will say.
“Instead we have a government blowing a vast amount of money on a damaging top-down reorganisation at the same time as it is cutting thousands of nurses, with more than 3,000 already gone.”
Funds earmarked to cover the reorganisation of the NHS under the Health Bill would be “more than sufficient” to protect all 6,000 jobs should the government choose to abandon the reforms “in the coming weeks,” Miliband will claim.
The government has rejected Labour's figures, claiming the number of clinical staff has "remained the same" since the election.
"Labour's accusations are wrong on all counts. Since the election we've cut admin staff by 15,000 and the total number of clinical staff has remained the same," said Health Minister Anne Milton in a statement to NiP.
"If we were not proceeding with modernisation in NHS by the end of this parliament there would be £1.5bn not available to support services and front line staff.
"Stopping the reforms now would mean cutting nursing posts. The shape of staffing in NHS is changing and the increase in doctors and therapists relative to nurses reflects that.
"But nursing numbers continue to be at highest ever levels in areas where they are needed."
Labour is calling for £750m of the near £1.8bn currently set aside to pay for the reorganisation of the NHS to fund the replacement of the 3,500 nursing posts that have already been lost, and the protection of a further 2,500 posts that research suggests will be lost in the coming years.
Question: Is the government justified in spending almost £1.8bn on NHS reorganisation?