HEALTH: Politicians `threaten future of NHS'

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Nearly four out of five nurses claim there are staff shortages where they work, with the majority thinking patients were being put at risk as a result, according to a new survey. A poll of more than 1,000 nurses revealed widespread political disenchantment among health workers and fears for the future of the NHS.

More than 40 per cent did not think the NHS was safe in the hands of any political party and believed it would no longer exist in 10 years time. Three-quarters of those polled thought the Government had plans to privatise the health service.

The ICM Research survey commissioned by Nursing Times found that only 33 per cent had faith in Labour and a mere 5 per cent trusted the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Sixty-seven per cent of nurses described morale as "low" or "very low" and nearly half believed the Patient's Charter had made no difference to the quality of care.