THE nursing budget for NHS Lothian has been slashed by £14 million, prompting fears from staff and unions about patient safety.
The cut will now see health chiefs left with a budget of around £285m, and the savings will have to be made in the face of increasing hospital activity.
It is understood inroads have already been made into reducing spending, which has prompted more nurses to complain of short-staffing on wards.
Managers in Edinburgh are also having to meet increased standards on battling superbugs and reducing waiting times, making the efficiency savings job tougher still.
At a recent board meeting, NHS Lothian vice-chairman and employee director Eddie Egan said that the main gripe nurses had was with staffing levels on wards.
He said: “Where does this sit with £14m going out of the nursing budget?
“One of the key things I get from nurses is they regularly record concerns about staffing levels to which no-one responds.”
Melanie Hornett, NHS Lothian’s nurse director, said: “The public sector, including all health boards in Scotland are facing financial challenges.
“As a responsible health board we are looking at operating all our services as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“We are committed to doing this without affecting the services we provide and ensuring patient care and patient safety is not compromised. This is of paramount importance to us.”