ALMOST 400 more nurses are set to be lost in the Lothians as part of the latest budget cutbacks.
NHS Lothian has already reduced its staff numbers by 734 in the past year, including 333 nurses.
Now the health board is projected to cut a similar number of jobs by the end of the current financial year, including 398 nurses.
The board has said it is satisfied it can achieve the cuts through natural wastage and redeployment.
This year’s reduction in staff at NHS Lothian amounts to a four per cent cut in the workforce – the second biggest cut anywhere in mainland Scotland.
Lothians Labour MSP Neil Findlay said he was shocked by the figures. He said: “I am concerned for the nurses who may lose their jobs and for the patients they serve. This is bad news for us all.
“When we are hearing wards across Lothian are understaffed and clinical staff are under real pressure, I’m astonished the health board is cutting such large numbers of nurses.
“Scottish Health Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, should make a statement on the loss of so many nurses and provide the people of Lothian with full information on the impact that this will have on patient care. It is not good enough for her to remain silent on these potentially very damaging cutbacks.”
Lynn McDowall, Royal College of Nursing officer for Lothian and Borders, said the cuts to nursing posts were bad news for patients.
She said: “While health boards are under increasing pressure to balance their books and make savings, the Scottish Government should support NHS Lothian to make these difficult decisions to manage demand and change services, without compromising quality for the people in their care.
“They should be looking more carefully at how savings could be made in other areas, such as sharing clinical and backroom services.”
NHS Lothian said it had the highest proportion of nursing and clinical staff as a percentage of the overall workforce, and that would remain the case after the latest reductions. Lynn Khindria, NHS Lothian associate director of human resources, said the board was now more than half way through a two-year plan to reduce its workforce by 2000.
“This has been achieved through natural staff turnover, redeployment and a reduction in the use of bank staff and overtime. Achieving a reduction in our workforce will play a key role in helping us to cope with the financial pressures and budget reductions which all health boards are facing.
“We are committed to protecting our essential frontline services and continue to recruit to posts in these areas.”
The Scottish Government declined to comment.