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Union warns of NHS staff losses

A workers union has warned thousands of jobs within the NHS will, or have been, lost, despite promises from the government to protect frontline services.

According to the figures released by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the number of jobs lost through recruitment freezes, redundancies, or not replacing staff when they retire, is around 10,000.

The union had previously warned the figure was around 5,600 after it gathered information from 26 health trusts across England in April. But the higher figure follows on from data received from more trusts.

Now it says figures from 100 NHS organisations in England show 9,973 posts have gone, been frozen, or will go.

This is the equivalent of 47 jobs a day over the last six months.

Howard Catton, Head of Policy at the RCN, said this was a "conservative figure" based on the lowest estimates from trusts of what has happened or will happen over the next two years.

The union pointed to a "growing gulf" between government promises to protect frontline services and "short-sighted" cuts happening in trusts.

Ministers have told the NHS to find between £15 and £20bn in efficiency savings by 2014, but Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has promised to protect frontline services.

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive of the RCN, said the latest job figures did not bode well for the future and "logic would suggest" the number of posts under threat is actually higher.

"The real effects of these austerity measures have not really started to kick in," he said.

"This is what we have got at this moment in time and it's doubled just seven or eight weeks down the line (since the last figures in April). That's very worrying if that trajectory is to continue."

Health minister, Anne Milton, said: "Many trusts are living in the past and interpreting efficiency savings as budget and service cuts. This is wrong. It is about doing more for less.

"The efficiency gains will then allow us to reinvest in clinical care to meet rising demand and improving outcomes.

"What it does not mean is clinical job cuts, unless costs rise without productivity gains."

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Royal College of Nursing