Nurses warn funding cuts putting public health at risk

Funding cuts to public services are putting the health of the public at risk, leading nurses have warned.

Food or fuel poverty has affected patients, nurses say. Picture: Getty Images
Food or fuel poverty has affected patients, nurses say. Picture: Getty Images

Almost four in ten nurses have treated patients whose health has been affected by malnutrition or food poverty.

And 41 per cent have seen patients with health affected by inadequate or unsafe housing.

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A major poll of more than 10,000 nurses and healthcare assistants around the UK also found that 21 per cent have seen patients affected by a lack of heating.

The survey comes at the start of the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) annual congress in Glasgow today.

The RCN said it is concerned these issues may be getting worse at the same time as funding is being cut back, and preventative work is being reduced.

Meanwhile, the lack of GPs in Scotland has been described as “extremely concerning” by the British Medical Association (BMA).

A survey by the union found 28.5 per cent of Scottish practices had at least one GP vacancy as of 1 June, an increase of 2.5 per cent in three months.

The increasing vacancy rates are putting more strain on remaining GPs who have to cover the gaps in their practice while also coping with increasing demands on services, the BMA warned.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said it was necessary to “redesign the way care is provided in the community to ensure these services are sustainable in the future”.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the BMA Scottish GP Committee, said: “The fact that over 28 per cent of GP practices in Scotland had a vacant position in this snapshot survey is extremely concerning.

“It shows that the recruitment and retention problems in general practice that we have been warning of are continuing to get worse.”