Nursing cuts will be ‘disastrous’

Nursing leaders have slammed Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) plans to axe more than 140 nursing jobs as “ disastrous.”

Marie McAteer, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Officer for the Western Trust area says such massive cuts - around 15% of current nursing staff - will have “ severe consequences for frontline patient care.”

Information made public last week revealed the WHSCT plans to axe 289 posts this financial year - 143 of those nursing roles.

“We are extremely concerned about reports that 143 nursing posts in the Western Trust are expected to be lost by the end of this financial year, and are disappointed that the Trust has not provided us with this information,” Ms McAteer told the ‘Journal.’

“Staff are experiencing unprecedented levels of pressure and are struggling to meet demand for services. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.”

She says the situation will be further compounded when Stormont’s budget is finally implemented.

“We have already stated that the draft budget allocation for health and social care will increase the already unacceptable pressures on nursing staff and jeopardise patient safety.

“The RCN will not support any proposals that will further increase pressures on nurses and patient care.

“We have already warned that further cuts to funding will mean the service will become unsustainable and have severe consequences for frontline patient care. I fear that, regrettably, we have now reached that point.”

She says the onus is now on local politicians to “decide on whether they are prepared to fund our health services properly or, if not, to make clear which services they are willing to close.”