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Austerity has lead to an ‘estimated 200,000 extra deaths’ over ten years

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The landmark study by the British Medical Journal examines the effects reduced health and social care spending are having on mortality rates.

The study, titled ‘Effects of health and social care spending constraints on mortality in England: a time trend analysis‘ reveals that austerity measures between 2010 and 2014 were associated with an estimated 45,000 additional deaths with this figure increasing to 120,000 in the subsequent years.

Funding for health and social care fell under the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition Government in 2010 and researchers conclude this “may have produced” the substantial increase in deaths.

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The research demonstrated that mortality rates in the UK declined steadily from 2001 to 2010, however, this reversed sharply after austerity measures were introduced.

Experts speculate that if we continue with current cuts we could see a rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020.

NHS Providers warned, only last week, that nurses were already ‘working on the edge of safety’ and ongoing cuts would compromise patient care further.

The news comes on weeks after The Royal College of Nursing called for an urgent patient safety review after staff raised concerns over the care within the national health service.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, responding to research published in the BMJ on nurse numbers and excess deaths in NHS and social care, said:

“This is yet more evidence that links the current shortage of nurses with increased patient mortality. Despite years of warnings, all parts of the NHS and social care system do not have enough nurses and people, particularly vulnerable and older individuals, are paying the highest price. They stand a better chance of recovery and longer, healthier lives when cared for by degree-trained nurses.

“For too long, the Government has allowed nursing on the cheap. Hospital wards and care homes alike increasingly rely on unregistered healthcare assistants, especially at night. Ministers cannot ignore further evidence on the risks of these shortages.

“The Government must redouble efforts to recruit more nurses. In next week’s Budget, the Chancellor has an opportunity to change course by investing in health and care services and the professionals who work in them.”

The study concludes that if we are to return to pre-2010 mortality rates spending on health and social care would need to increase by £25.3bn.

The researchers admitted that while the study cannot prove cause and effect, it did find a chronological correlation, with changes in spending followed by changes in mortality.

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Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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