NHS trusts across England are freezing recruitment in a bid to reduce rising deficits, trade unions have warned. As a result many newly qualified nurses are struggling to find jobs.
The cutback on nurses is the latest consequence of a financial crisis in the NHS that health service union Unison has warned will have a profound effect on services.
“A number of trusts are in the red and the first step to address that is to freeze posts,” said Unison’s head of nursing Gail Adams.
“And with the legion of newly qualified nurses coming in September, this becomes even more of an issue.”
The union said it has heard of staff freezes in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Norfolk, Norwich, Ipswich, London and the East Midlands.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is also aware of nursing posts at risk – with the possibility of some nurses even facing redundancy.
Tim Curry, the RCN’s policy advisor, said the college had warned the Department of Health that the problem would compromise patient safety, particularly in the battle against hospital-acquired infections.
Both groups believe the staffing problems are linked to the rising debts of NHS trusts. Last month the Healthcare Commission, the NHS watchdog, revealed that nearly a quarter of NHS trusts were in the red at the end of the last financial year.
Last week NHS boss Sir Nigel Crisp wrote to NHS chief executives demanding cuts in administration and management costs in order to save £250m a year.