Nurses express doubts over use of extra cash

The billions of pounds being pumped into the NHS to improve patient care and
recruit more nurses is having little effect on frontline services, according to
a poll of 1,000 nurses.

The survey by The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) showed that less than a third
of nurses believe the extra £5.9bn in government funding given to the NHS in
the past year has made any difference to their working lives.

Only 30 per cent believe the number of permanent nursing staff has
increased, while 47 per cent said spending on agency staff has risen, and 52
per cent thought the money was being used to employ more managers.

The Government has stressed the importance of involving frontline clinical
staff in decisions about where to target spending. But the survey showed that
the overwhelming majority of nurses (80 per cent) had little or no involvement
in deciding where new investment was spent.

General secretary of the RCN, Dr Beverly Malone, said that nurses should
play an invaluable role in ensuring the money was used to make a genuine
difference to patients.

"Enabling our leadership to be fully utilised will mean that
improvements will be seen right across the health service," Malone said.

Andrew McNeilis, commercial director at HR consultancy Hudson, defended
agency nursing. He said that flexible labour was essential to fill gaps when
staff were off sick or needed to go on training courses.

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