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How austerity harms health

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As nurses, we know the danger of taking short-cuts in clinical care; put a plaster over a deep wound without packing it and it will not heal, fail to immunise a population against common diseases and there will be epidemics of serious illnesses. Ignore smoking, alcohol abuse, inactivity and obesity and long-term costly health outcomes will ensue.

In primary care, the days of treating straightforward illnesses are gone. Most consultations are a continuum of care, addressing chronic complex problems; not only physical conditions, but psychological and social issues. With an ageing population, the financial implications for the NHS are huge.

Austerity measures

All corners of society are feeling the bite of austerity measures imposed by the coalition government and cuts to local services are inevitable. In Newcastle-upon-Tyne where I work as a practice nurse, there has been widespread, dazed disbelief at local government plans to cut Newcastle's external arts budget by 100 per cent, which will include closing more than half the city's libraries and swimming pools.

Plans involve reducing funding for youth and children's services and the closure of ten Sure Start centres. Meanwhile, more than £400m of public money is to be spent in the private sector on city property development.

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