The ConDem’s disregard for the nation’s health is demonstrated by alarming new figures: the NHS will lose more than 50,000 jobs over the next four years.

This is what ringfencing Tory-style looks like: the cuts to the National Health Service mean that around 53,000 jobs will be axed over the next four years, according to new research by the website False Economy. This is twice the previous estimate of job losses in the health service, published by the Royal College of Nurses last November.

Staff across the board that are going be affected, as doctors, nurses and midwives will lose their jobs. In England alone, 24,000 posts will disappear in hospitals, 10,000 in primary care trusts, and 6,000 in mental health trusts. University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, for example, will cut more than 20 percent of its entire staff.

As False Economy writes, “it is hard to see how 20 percent of cuts […] can be achieved without impacting on patient care.” England is affected particularly badly, where the NHS is trying to cope with an efficiency drive worth £20bn. But other areas will suffer as well: In Northern Ireland, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is cutting 1,755 full-time posts in 2010-11, which is nearly a nine percent reduction in one year, including 120 doctors and dentists, and 620 nurses.

Research was mainly undertaken through Freedom of Information requests, asking for “confirmed, planned and potential” cuts to NHS staff. The 53,000 job losses exclude staff cuts that are expected to be announced in the next four months, including all Wales’ health boards.

The impact of these cuts on patient care are likely to be severe. There was never a feeling that the ConDem government is overly concerned with the well-being of the country, but the callousness with which they take the axe to the NHS – still one of the most popular institutions in the UK – is alarming.

Cameron’s now-infamous promise that he would “cut the deficit, not the NHS” can be added to the long list of things that the ConDems didn’t really mean when they were campaigning during the election period. Another one would be the claim that there would be no more top-down reorganisation of the health service. What are we getting now? The biggest top-down reorganisation of the health service since its foundation.

Peter Stauber

Peter Stäuber is a freelance journalist and translator. He writes for English and German language publications and is a member of the NUJ.