British trade unions mobilise against NHS slash

(Brussels 23 February) The European Public Services union (EPSU) salutes the efforts of its affiliates in the United Kingdom to avoid a major slash of 50.000 jobs in the NHS. Today a trade union backed campaign against the cuts has been launched (see below).

date: 22 February 2011

embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 23 February 2011

50,000 NHS job losses uncovered by new cuts campaign website

False Economy – the cuts campaign website that formally launches today (Wednesday) – reveals that more than 50,000 NHS staff posts are set for the axe, destroying government claims that the NHS is in safe hands.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said in April 2010 of possible NHS job cuts under Labour: “They will cut the number of nurses, the number of doctors and the number of hospital beds. It does not get more frontline than that.”

David Cameron then famously claimed before the election that he would “cut the deficit, not the NHS”.

However less than 10 months into the coalition government, the reality couldn’t be more different, with NHS cuts across the country including:
- East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which expects to shed 1,013 full-time equivalent staff from 2010-15, including almost 50 doctors and dental staff, and 270 nurses, midwives and health visitors.
- Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which is cutting 682 full-time equivalent posts between 2010 and 2013. 110 posts have already gone.
- University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, who are currently forecasting a reduction of 1,349 full-time posts from 2011-15, which is 22.5 per cent of its entire staff.
- Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who expect to cut 461 full-time posts by 2015 – a 16 per cent reduction, including a 12 per cent cut in nurses, midwives and health visitors.
- Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, which is cutting 1,755 full-time posts in 2010-11 – nearly a nine per cent net reduction in one year, including 120 doctors and dentists, and 620 nurses.
- Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, who plan to shed 1,115 full-time posts from 2011-14, mainly through natural turnover.

The total confirmed, planned and potential NHS staff cuts across the country currently stands at just over 53,150 posts – and that’s before a host of trusts are expected to announce staff cuts over the next four months, including all Wales’ health boards, says the TUC.

The national total is already twice the previous estimate of 27,000 job cuts, published by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) last November.

The cuts in mental health trusts are particularly acute, with cuts of over 15 per cent at the following NHS Trusts; Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership, Derbyshire Mental Health Services, Mersey Care, and Kent and Medway and Social Care Partnership Trust.

False Economy’s figures have been collated for the most part from NHS trusts themselves under the Freedom of Information Act but also include figures sourced by the RCN Frontline First campaign, as well as press reports and foundation trusts’ annual plans published by the national regulator Monitor.

The figures are, where possible, given as full-time equivalents, net of any recruitment of new staff. False Economy’s figures include the 4,000 job cuts recently predicted by Northern Irish health minister Michael McGimpsey over the next four years, plus 3,000 job cuts previously announced by NHS trusts that are now subject to revision.

While most of the cuts are likely to be achieved through natural wastage rather than compulsory redundancies, it is hard to see how 20 per cent staff cuts – such as those planned by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust – can be achieved without directly impacting on patient care, says the TUC.

False Economy is a new website that has already established itself, even before today’s formal launch, as the hub of Britain’s growing anti-cuts movement. It allows people to upload details of local cuts, provide testimony on how the cuts will affect them and promote local groups and activities.

A video, narrated by Samuel West, makes the case that the cuts are bearing down on those who did least to cause the crash, and that there is an alternative to the cuts that relies on economic growth and a fair tax system to close the deficit.

False Economy brings together the new generation of social media campaigners with the traditional campaigners in unions. The site’s director is Clifford Singer who ran the MyDavidCameron spoof poster site during the election campaign, and its management committee brings together a wide cross-section of online campaigners with the TUC and other union representatives.

False Economy Campaign Director Clifford Singer said: “We now list more than 100 local cuts campaigns in our directory, and it’s fascinating how many are using social networks like Facebook to communicate. Some even formed through Facebook. But the point is they aren’t just talking to each other on the web, but using it to organise campaigns on their local high streets.

“UK Uncut is a brilliant example. It started as a few friends sending messages on Twitter, but grew into a high-profile, nationwide campaign against tax avoidance and greedy banks. It turned upside down the notion that internet campaigning is just about ‘clicktivism’ – low-effort activities like online petitions – and could be used as a powerful organising tool.”

MyDavidCameron is launching a new spoof version of the Conservative campaign poster that replaces “We can’t go on like this. I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS” with ”We can’t go on like this. I’ll cut” followed by a scrolling tally of NHS cuts. The poster is available at

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The campaign against the government’s deep, rapid cuts is really taking off all round the country.

“False Economy combines the strengths of union traditions with the creativity of the new generation of campaigners more used to Twitter than branch meetings.

“It’s rapidly become a home both for those taking their first steps in protesting about their local library closing and also for long-established opponents of the cuts.

“False Economy’s new research on NHS job cuts gives the lie to government claims that the NHS was safe in their hands. Not only are they reorganising the NHS in a way that strips out many of its founding principles, but also insisting on immediate cuts that will certainly harm frontline services. To echo Andrew Lansley, it does not get much more frontline than that.”

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “The Tories are not the party of the NHS – they are the party that will destroy our NHS. Losing 50,000 health workers will hurt. It’s only a matter of time before the toll of bed shortages and ward closures mount up. With fewer nurses on wards, the return of long waiting lists, and a rise in cancelled operations, patient care will be an early casualty.

“The Tories cannot ignore the mounting evidence that they have got it wrong on the health service, and wrong on recovery. They need to put the brakes on the cuts, and shelve the titanic re-organisation of the health service before it’s too late.

“Instead of sacrificing patients, the Tories should make the UK’s major banks pay their fair share in tax, and tackle the galling spectre of big City bonuses.”

- The full list of NHS cuts will be available on the False Economy website from 00.01hrs Wednesday 23 February. Journalists wanting to see the list in advance should contact the TUC press office.
- False Economy’s mission statement is: “False Economy is for everyone concerned about the impact of the government’s spending cuts on their community, their family or their job.”
- The Andrew Lansley quote can be found at
Northern Irish Health Minister Michael McGimpsey’s fears about 4,000 job losses can be found here
- All TUC press releases can be found at
- Register for the TUC’s press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit

Contacts: Media enquiries:

Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E:

Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E:

Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E:

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