PLANS to make massive cuts to NHS services in Berkshire have been leaked.
The NHS's draft Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire was made public by Reading Borough Council on Wednesday.
The report says NHS organisations and local authorities in the counties will be left with a £479m shortfall by 2020 unless substantial savings are made.
The forecast deficit for the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust by 2020 is currently £45m and for the Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), £59m.
To reduce the deficit, the NHS is proposing to make cuts and slash £34m from the workforces in the counties.
In the report, it says: "The proposals we are developing demonstrate how we can meet this figure through a combination of efficiency savings, delivering services in different and more cost effective ways and tackling areas of current service provision which deliver poor value for patients and taxpayers."
The NHS say the full plan is due to be published early in 2017, but added that none of the Berkshire West projects contain anything which requires public consultation.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) South East region has today responded to the news.
Patricia Marquis, RCN regional director in the South East, said: “We are seriously concerned with the plans laid out in this document to take out over £125m from the workforce budget - depleting staffing at the same time as demand for care continues to rise.
“The NHS could not run without its vital support staff, but the evidence is clear and long standing - where you have enough registered nurses you have better patient outcomes and fewer avoidable deaths.
“Registered nurses are highly educated and have wide clinical experience – they can spot signs of a patient deteriorating and take the action that is needed. Substituting registered nurses with support staff quite simply puts patient care and patients’ lives at risk.
“We agree there are improvements that can be made to the way services are delivered but the plan identifies a £479m funding gap over the next five years. The NHS simply needs more money.
“We are pleased to see the document lays out plans for improving retention, working on overseas recruitment and enhancing flexibility."