The NHS is drawing up plans to replace nurses with cheaper staff, despite Government insistence that new roles will be used to boost staffing numbers, new plans show.Health service managers in charge of services in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West intend to save more than £30 million by using more “generic support workers” and healthcare assistants while cutting back on highly qualified nurses.The four-year plan – one of 44 being drawn up around the country – follows BMJ research earlier this week which linked increased reliance on nursing assistants to a sharp rise in death risks. The NHS is facing the worst financial crisis in its history Credit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The Department of Health insists the new nursing associates will support nurses, not stand in for themCredit:PA Nursing associates are intended to plug a staffing gapCredit:Getty Images It comes amid the most severe financial crisis in the history of the NHS, with quarterly figures on Friday expected to show a continued deficit and a swathe of missed performance targets.Leaked emails reveal that hospitals have been told they will only have a chance of receiving financial bailouts if they can show that their suppliers are about to cut them off.The email from regulator NHS Improvement comes amid a growing cash flow crisis, with trusts likely to seek short-term loans so they can pay staff and suppliers. Sally Gainsbury, senior policy analyst at the Nuffield Trust told HSJ the situation was “really worrying” and inevitable given that hospital costs were not keeping pace with income.The leader of NHS hospitals and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges on Thursday urged the Chancellor to boost health and social care funds in next week’s Autumn Statement.NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: “There is now a clear gap between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and the funding available.” The study raised questions about Government plans to introduce 2,000 nursing associate roles across England.The Department of Health says such roles will be used to boost numbers, not replace more skilled staff.But the local NHS plan, disclosed in the Health Service Journal (HSJ), suggests otherwise.
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