UPDATED 12/01/12

WORKFORCE: Salford Royal Foundation Trust has cut 200 nursing posts this year, and will cut the same number again over the coming two years, Salford and Eccles MP Hazel Blears told parliament yesterday.

Addressing health secretary Andrew Lansley, Labour MP Ms Blears asked: “When the Secretary of State, together with the Prime Minister, visited Salford Royal hospital last week to praise the nurse leadership, was he aware that the hospital has cut 200 posts this year and is about to cut a further 200 posts over the next two years as a result of having to take 15 per cent out of its budget?

“Does he not agree that nurse leadership is important, but that we also need the nurses on the wards to be able to deliver effective patient care?,” she asked.

Mr Lansley replied: “Of course I had an opportunity to talk to the chief executive, the nursing director and others at Salford Royal, and I was tremendously impressed, as was the Prime Minister, by the quality and leadership of the nursing, which demonstrated what he was saying about nursing—that there is best practice inside the NHS, and we need to spread it.

“The right hon. Lady is confusing a cost-improvement programme with a cut. I think members on both sides of the house understand that the NHS is having to make efficiency savings, which involves shifting some resources from the acute sector and hospitals into the community.”

David Dalton, Chief Executive at Salford Royal refuted Ms Blears’ claims, saying it was “not true” to suggest the foundation was cutting 400 nursing posts.

“I can confirm that by 31 March 2012 we plan to employ 150 fewer registered nurses than last year but 140 of those have been redeployed to other trusts as a consequence of the agreed transfer of maternity and neonatal services from this Trust to other hospitals, he said.

“In addition, we are about to embark on a recruitment drive to attract more nurses into the Trust as part of our new Trauma Centre service. We have also fulfilled our commitment, year on year, to employ our student nurses into permanent posts and intend to do so again in April this year.”

He continued: “I can confirm that the number of nurses per bed has improved year on year and a recent Audit Commission review of our qualified nursing ratio per in-patient bed showed that staffing levels are above average for our peer group.”

“Like every Trust across the country, we have our own cost improvement programme and ours is founded upon deep staff engagement,” he added. “We are proud to say that we are doing so without compulsory redundancy.”