The Royal College of Nursing is calling for the government to maintain investment levels in the NHS to keep standards of patient care from dropping.

In the run-up to the pre-Budget report, RCN chief executive and general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: “Sustained investment in frontline services is needed to ensure patients receive safe, high quality care.

“While it is good news that the economy seems to be starting to recover, it would be detrimental for spending on health to be cut as has happened following previous recessions. The demand on the health service has never been greater, and will continue to increase in the coming years.

“To avoid taking a step backwards, the government must invest in a skilled workforce, effective regulation, high standards of education, and the best, up-to-date equipment.”

Dr Carter added: “In the last few years, the NHS has made good progress in improving the quality of care on offer to patients. It would be devastating for these gains to be lost as a result of cuts to the health budget.

“It is vital that the government’s vision for the NHS stays focused on the long term and does not become distracted by short term savings. Sustained investment in frontline services is crucial if patients are to get the quality of care they need and deserve.”