2300 fewer nurses working in acute care since the General Election

3 February 2013

Andy BurnhamLabour has today published new figures on the loss of nursing staff from England's A&E units and hospital wards.

A freedom of information request has revealed that since May 2010, 2300 of England's most front-line nursing jobs have been lost.

Last week, Labour's monthly NHS Check report detailed the worst winter in the NHS for almost a decade. An extra 47,000 patients waited more than 4 hours in A&E this winter, compared to last year. Whilst an extra 10,400 patients were made to wait 30 minutes or more in ambulances outside overcrowded A&Es.

Today's figures come as the Nursing Times journal reported that six in ten nurses described their ward as "dangerously under-staffed" on occasions. Over three quarters of nurses in the same survey reported witnessing poor care in the last year.

The healthcare regulator, the Care Quality Commission, has repeatedly cautioned hospitals for poor staffing levels in recent months, as the overall number of lost nursing jobs has reached almost 5000. Last month, seventeen hospitals were still listed as under-staffed at their most recent CQC inspection.

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

"Since David Cameron entered Downing Street, thousands of nursing jobs have been lost. Hospitals have been struggling to cope with less staff and the care regulator has repeatedly warned hospital bosses and Ministers about running risks with patient safety.

"This week will see another stark warning on the dangers of under-staffed hospitals, where patients were shamefully let down. Ministers must show they will learn the lessons and ward off any chance of a repeat. The Government is letting the NHS struggle through winter, but it cannot continue haemorrhaging experienced staff without putting patient safety at risk."