“The document sketches out plans for the ‘use of generic support workers (across health and social care), reduction of nursing grade input, increased use of healthcare assistants’. This comes just days after a paper published in the BMJ demonstrated the link between numbers of registered nurses and patient mortality in a number of countries.
“The NHS could not run without its vital support staff, but the evidence is clear and long standing - where you have enough registered nurses you have better patient outcomes and fewer avoidable deaths.
“Registered nurses are highly educated and have wide clinical experience – they can spot signs of a patient deteriorating and take the action that is needed. Substituting registered nurses with support staff quite simply puts patient care and patients’ lives at risk.
“We agree there are improvements that can be made to the way services are delivered but the plan identifies a £479m funding gap over the next five years. The NHS simply needs more money.
“We are pleased to see the document lays out plans for improving retention, working on overseas recruitment and enhancing flexibility.
“We would welcome the opportunity to sit down with this STP group and really look at what the plans will mean for patients and the workforce. Nurses are expertly placed to help develop the services that they are involved in delivering and the RCN should be involved in local workforce action boards and other relevant groups.
“The STP leaders must be honest about what they are actually proposing to do and current employers within each STP area must involve nurses and their local representatives urgently to enable them to shape the plans before it is too late. There must be open and honest discussion about these plans if they are going to be fit for purpose.”