A health minister has denied claims that tens of thousands of clinical posts in the NHS will be axed over the next three years and has reiterated the government's commitment to safeguarding frontline services.
The rebuttal from Simon Burns comes after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) produced data from a survey, which suggests that nearly 40,000 frontline jobs could be scrapped over the next three years.
He highlighted government workforce data showing there will be a rise in the number of doctors and nurses employed, funded by a real-terms increase of £11.5bn spent on the NHS over the next four years.
Mr Burns told BBC Breakfast that, for the 15 months up to the end of December last year, there had been a rise of 2,677 in the number of nurses employed in the NHS. Even in the last quarter of 2010 the number of nurses rose by just over 1,200, he said. He added that there was also an increase of around 3,000 more doctors.
His remarks come as Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive, said it was a "myth" that the government was protecting the frontline against cuts and said shedding staff could have "catastrophic consequences" for patient safety and care.
"The health minister said in his answers to the Select Committee in March, that £1.3bn had been saved already on healthcare professionals what is the relationship between costs and provision of care if not that money provides services for patient care" – N Ross, East Sussex