The Socialist 23 November 2006 |
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Nurses against 'natural wastage'
NURSES ARE told that the government wants a publicly owned NHS providing the best-quality care for all patients. We're promised 'no job cuts', and we're told new nurses are being trained, and wages are improving. Is this the reality?
A Yorkshire nurse
As a nurse working within the NHS, you know that creeping privatisation exists. Reforms hit the wards, new policies and directives arrive from on high, but the managers remain the same, the work remains the same, just more of it.
No job cuts means no recruitment. Nurses often feel they do the jobs that nobody else wants to do, or haven't been done. If the cleaner is off then the nurse cleans. When there are bodily fluids to be cleaned up, then the nurse does it.
If patients are found to be malnourished, then it's the nurses' fault. As the workforce is stretched to the limit then agency workers cover holidays and sickness, if you're lucky, or you just get on with it.
Agenda for Change is supposed to allow nurses to reach their full potential. The reality is we're doing the jobs that were done by junior doctors, so their working time can be reduced.
Trained in new skills, we nurses are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year, making us cheap speech and language therapists, dietitians or any other professional. Our wages remain the same or we get the smallest pay rise of all the public professions.
New nurses being trained are not getting jobs as recruitment has slowed. Part-time jobs are being offered to newly qualified nurses who want full-time work. The newly qualified nurse who supplements her/his income behind a bar or shop can be heard in many a hospital. A good job within the NHS should provide the nurse with the grounding required to proceed in their chosen career.
The Keep the NHS Public campaign claims that 20,000 jobs are being cut within the NHS. The government says only 900 staff will be made redundant.
So the remaining 19,100 jobs will be lost though 'natural wastage' and voluntary redundancy. 20,000 jobs will still need to be covered, most likely by nurses spreading themselves thinner. The fact that newly qualified nurses are not being employed is a waste and certainly not natural. The only natural wastage in the NHS is what the nurses clean up daily!