Nurses fear Equality Bill may squeeze healthcare

Hospitals may have to lay off healthcare staff because of the extra costs of implementing the Equality Bill, says the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Although the RCN commends the majority of the Bill, it has raised concerns about the heavy cost burdens and added bureaucracy.

The RCN has warned that patient care could suffer if hospitals have to sack staff to cover the extra costs.

In a briefing on the Bill, the RCN states: “It is vital to the RCN and its members that this cost has no knock-on effect to the level of patient care provided and staffing levels.”

The RCN joins a lengthy list of organisations voicing concerns about the Equality Bill.

In April the British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors warned that the Government’s controversial Equality Bill will bring major cost burdens at a time of recession.

The Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman, is thought to have also faced opposition to the Bill from Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson.

Politicians have called it “unworkable” “misleading” “gobbledegook”, commentators say it is an “expensive bureaucratic maze” and TV bosses fear it will interfere and impose politically correct quotas on their programming.

The Equality Bill is currently being debated at Committee Stage in the House of Commons.

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