NHS cuts will put pressure on social care, warns union

Social care will come under increasing pressure and mental health patients will suffer on the back of the 50,000 NHS jobs cuts revealed today, campaigners have warned.

Social care will come under increasing pressure and mental health patients will suffer on the back of the 50,000 NHS jobs cuts revealed today, campaigners have warned.

Some mental health trusts are planning to shed 15% from their workforces, cuts monitoring group False Economy revealed today, with total NHS job losses likely to hit 53,150.

This is despite the government’s pledge to protect the NHS. In practice, the NHS will receive a slight real-terms spending cut from 2011 to 2015, while councils face a 28% reduction in funding.

A Unison spokesperson said: “There’s more pressure on the NHS to deliver on the social care service because of the cuts to local councils and these job losses.

“The flood of cuts and the costly reorganisation hitting the health service means they are struggling to balance their budgets.

“The real issue is the gap in these two services between council provision and health provision. Where does that leave users?”

Charity Mind warned the cuts were likely to have a “detrimental impact” on patient care and could put at risk the government’s mental health strategy.

“We cannot risk under-investing in mental health and reducing staff at a time of financial hardship when more people than ever will be experiencing increased levels of mental distress,” said Sophie Corlett, Mind’s external relations director.

Steve Shrubb, director of the Mental Health Network, which represents mental health trusts, said providers were doing all they could to protect the frontline and patient care.

This included greater use of IT, service redesign and expanding the use of peer support workers, who are former mental health service users.

But he said job losses were unavoidable, be they through natural wastage or redundancy, because the NHS had to find £20bn in efficiencies over the next four years.

“Mental health providers are working hard to minimise the effects of that on the frontline,” he said. “But, if you take out £20bn, you aren’t going to do that by merging back office functions.”

The news follows significant local authority job cuts, with 75% of councils planning to make redundancies this year.

However, the Conservatives questioned the validity of the figures.

“The more this report is scrutinised, the clearer False Economy’s shameless and deeply irresponsible scaremongering becomes,” said party chairman Michael Fallon. “Just a day after this union-led campaign’s cynical attempt to unsettle NHS workers and the public, the truth is coming out: their research is deeply suspect and the organisations they’re citing are setting the record straight.”

He said that in one case, False Economy had claimed that 1,300 jobs were set to go at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, but these staff were being moved into NHS community settings, so were not being lost to the service.

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