Cutbacks fear for nurses

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A NURSES union has urged the Government to rethink its public spending review over fears cuts to public health budgets will severely impact the quality of NHS services.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) North West division has sent a letter outlining its concerns to chancellor George Osborne.

It states that “reversing the proposed cuts will relieve pressure on our overburdened NHS, tackle inequalities and improve people’s health and wellbeing.”

As Wigan Council is faced with making savings of £60m by 2020, there will be a knock-on effect on public health budgets, the RCN said.

RCN North West Regional Director, Estephanie Dunn said: “It is no good for the Government to say they are protecting the budget for the NHS but then to make huge cuts to council-run health services which are there to keep people well and out of hospital. The NHS will end up paying for these savings many times over.

“These plans will also disproportionately hit poorer communities that experience difficulty accessing mainstream services and will make health inequalities worse.

“If the Government really wants to put prevention at the heart of health care then the Chancellor should think again and withdraw these damaging proposals when he announces the spending review in November.”

The letter also highlights analysis by the Faculty of Public Health which says the knock on cost to the NHS could be in excess of £1bn.

Services affected by the cutbacks could include school nursing and other child health services, suicide prevention and domestic violence prevention, drug and alcohol, sexual health, weight loss support, smoking cessation services and wider mental health provision including befriending services for older people.

And in total, £200m will be removed from local authority budgets across the NW, the RCN added.