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Safety Watch

Welcome to Safety Watch, which will catalogue and explore the various growing risks to safe patient care developing across the NHS as austerity cuts bite home. This includes unsafe reconfiguration plans, unsafe staffing levels, ramming extra beds into already full wards, and any other concerns that come to light.

We invite health workers and campaigners to submit matters of concern, as links, as full text or as notes. If you wish to be identified as the source of information, please make this clear. Email to us at stpwatch@gmail.com.


Staff shortages must not become excuse for closures

Time and again in cash-strapped trusts across the country management have allowed vacancy levels to rise in units they wish to downgrade or close down.

The very announcement that the future of any A&E or hospital is under review is enough to blight its prospects of recruitment of medical and nursing staff.

However campaigners have pointed out that in almost every case the drive to “reconfigure” and “centralise” acute services in ever larger units, denying local access to care in the areas where cuts are planned is not linked with any viable or coherent plans to provide safe levels of inpatient services, or any genuine reprovision of alternative services “in the community”.

The only convincing and detailed plans on offer are for closures and the numbers of beds and services to be axed.

It’s clear that in these cases the prime concern of health bosses is cash saving and balancing the books: “safety” and staffing levels are being cynically used as a smokescreen.

Staff shortages need to be identified and addressed by serious workforce plans and incentive schemes, spending more if necessary – not by more downgrades and closures that are known to deter any potential staff, and will create new, bigger crises in the hospitals that remain open, and put even more patients at risk.

Building a big campaign for a safe, sound NHS


The fight to make the NHS Safe For All has to be waged on the broadest possible front, to unite everyone, whatever their political views, who is ready to fight for policies that can address the staff shortages and unsafe systems that have been worsened by cuts and fragmentation of services.

Health Campaigns Together affiliates have voted unanimously to launch a safety campaign and we are delighted to have already won support from UNISON’s Head of Health Sara Gorton who said “I am happy to support this important campaign for safe services.”

For more on this, see Health Campaigns Together issue 12, page 2.

The risk to residents due to loss of A&E and Maternity at Poole


Defend Dorset NHS examines the threats to safe treatment from the plans to “centralise” Dorset’s emergency services in Bournemouth.

The CCG has failed to properly assess the risk to residents as a result of the proposed loss of A&E and Maternity services at Poole. There is significant risk to at least 400 patients per year, and there are at least 180 patients per year at risk of fatality.

  • Read the full article here

    Royal colleges press for safe staffing


    The NHS “hasn’t got a clue” how many doctors and other health professionals it needs to safely staff its wards, according to the Royal College of Physicians, who launched a major report on staffing levels in July.

    It recommends running wards based on numbers of decision makers, with at least two doctors or other senior clinicians employed to cover a standard 30-person ward and six to eight on a 45 bed acute ward – where care needs are higher.

    Read more on page 3 of Health Campaigns Together issue 12.



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