Worries over shortages in wards staff

INCONSISTENCY and mismanagement threaten a critical shortage of GPs and nurses, warn two Fylde coast MPs.

Ben Wallace, MP for Lancaster and Wyre, and Michael Jack, MP for Fylde, said a leaked document on cuts to the NHS wage bill showed bad personnel management.

The document, part of the draft version of the NHS pay and workforce strategy for 2008 to 2011 in England, predicted that within four years the NHS will have a shortage of 1,200 GPs, 14,000 nurses and 1,100 doctors.

It also revealed an extra 3,200 consultants the NHS cannot afford to pay and an excess of 1,600 allied professionals, health scientists and technicians.

The Government has announced that more than 900 NHS staff are to be made redundant across the country as part of hospitals reorganisation.

Mr Wallace said: "The whole thing shows the Government's incompetency when it comes to workforce planning.

"It has encouraged people to join the NHS but now is laying people off and, in my own constituency, I hear of health professionals, for example, midwives, who cannot find a job.

"Meanwhile, in some areas there are shortages of nurses.

"The employment of NHS staff has been made much more expensive, meaning job freezes and the like in some areas.

"It's a tragedy NHS staff are being made redundant, when it should be incompetent managers and bureaucrats facing the axe."

Mr Jack said: "My view about reports like this is they don't address the real problems.

"We have trained professionals competing for consultant positions who can't get jobs because there aren't enough to go around and, at the same time, desperate shortages in other areas."

Maureen Horn, from Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals Trust NHS Patient and Public Involvement Forum, said she was "very worried" to hear the news.

She said: "This makes me very concerned with all the changes coming in in the health service.

"We no longer seem to be patients with a name and address and part of the community, we are numbers.

"It seems the focus nationally is more about targets than patients. GPs are already under pressure."

But Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, stressed it was early days and the NHS was facing a period of change.

He said: "The document is speculative. The emphasis in the NHS over the next few years will be transferring services from the acute sector to the community.

"That will have an impact in terms of the people we need. Fylde coast MPs will be keeping a close eye on the process."