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Nurses fear budget cuts are risking the public's health

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Nurses say that budget cuts are impacting services Nurses say that budget cuts are impacting preventative services

Nearly half of nurses have said that their work has been affected by increased levels of poor public health, finds new research by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

In a survey of 10,000 nurses and healthcare assistants, 38% had seen patients with their health affected by malnutrition and food poverty and 41% had seen patients with their health affected by inadequate or unsafe housing. Over 20% has seen patients affected by a lack of heating.

The RCN has expressed concern that these long standing issues may be getting worse at the same time as funding is being cut back, and preventative work is being reduced.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said that though the NHS has evolved over the years into an excellent system for curing illness and treating its effects, but this survey highlights that there is a huge increase in ill health that could be prevented.

'Lifestyle choices have a part to play, but many of the problems identified by nurses as affecting the health of their patients come down to the very difficult lives many of them lead. Inadequate or unsafe housing has a huge effect on health, as does overcrowding, food poverty, overwork, unemployment and family breakdown,' she said.

'There is a widening divide between people who are living long and healthy lives and those who are struggling due to poor housing or poverty – and this inequality in itself is something that should not be tolerated.'

One nurse said in the survey: 'I work with homeless and drug and alcohol abusers, and have seen their lives become more difficult due to lack of resources and services being pulled out due to lack of funding.'

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