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Thursday 27th October 2016

Nursing cuts will 'cost lives'

8th January 2007

27042006_empty_corridor.jpgLess than half the planned 3,000 community matrons are in place, say nursing leaders.

And cuts in the number of training places for other community nurses mean the government could fall short of its plans to treat many more chronic illnesses at home to reduce expensive hospital admissions.

The government aimed to have all the matrons in post by March. But so far just 1,200 have started working, say the Royal College of Nursing.

It is the latest concern over NHS reforms to be revealed, with more than 100 hospitals currently under threat of closure because of chronic overspending.

Community matrons were introduced in 2004 as part of efforts to care for more patients with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes at home and reduce hospital admissions and the need for community hospital beds.

The RCN has said the current financial crisis has halted recruitment of the new posts and affected recruitment of district nurses and health visitors. It said around one in four district nurses are now reaching retirement age, yet training places are being cut, making it impossible for them to be replaced.

Despite the lack of community matrons to take on more responsibility, community hospital closures are still going ahead.

The government said there are a third more community nurses, compared to 10 years ago.

A separate report has warned that cutting nursing numbers will cost lives. Professor Anne Marie Rafferty of King’s College London found there were an additional 246 deaths on wards with fewer staff. Her report, which looked at the records of 30 trusts and 120,000 patients, is published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.

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