Problems with staffing levels that have been blamed for the closure of Weston Hospital’s overnight A&E department must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Trust boss James Rimmer blamed “a critical over-reliance” on agency staff due to problems recruiting health workers in the area.
UNISON is calling for an end to the 1% cap on NHS pay rises and a return of the NHS bursary to address recruitment issues.
The call comes as inflation hits a four year high of 2.9%. NHS staff salaries have fallen by 6% since 2010 with some groups such as doctors seeing a 12% real-terms pay cut. By 2020 NHS wages across the board are forecast to be 12% lower than they were in 2010.
A 23% drop in applications for healthcare courses has also been recorded following the abolition NHS student bursaries at the start of 2017.
The planned closure of A&E wards leaves North Somerset patients needing emergency overnight medical care at least a forty minute journey away from the nearest facilities in Taunton or central Bristol.
UNISON organiser for Weston Christina Cook said:
“The closure of this A&E department – leaving sick people with nowhere to go – was not down to the NHS staff who go above and beyond to look after us all.
The blame is squarely at the feet of the Government ministers who have caused this self-inflicted disaster. For too long the Government has relied on NHS staff overstretching themselves to cover the cracks in the system caused by a lack of investment in people and facilities.
“You don’t get a staffing crisis by accident; it comes from seven years of running down NHS services and devaluing staff. The Government’s incompetence is breathtaking.
At a time when Brexit has seen a 96% drop in the number of EU nurses coming to work here, instead of investing in our own young people this Government has cut the support for training the next generation of NHS staff. Now we are all being hit by the consequences.”
“It’s high time NHS staff got a pay rise that at very least matches the rise in the cost of living, and to bring back the NHS bursary so we can make sure young people have the skills they need to keep our NHS going”