Plans to improve training for nurses and health workers who care for older people and those suffering from dementia must not come at the expense of existing services, Unison warned today.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said that standards of care in the NHS will be a key priority for the government this year as he announced an investment of more than £60 million to train nurses and healthcare assistants.
The move follows the launch of a campaign to improve nursing by Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who said her late husband Owen Roberts died "like a battery hen" in Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales while being treated for multiple sclerosis.
Mr Cameron announced that from April "friends and family tests" as well as patient-led inspections will be introduced in all hospitals.
The tests will ask patients and staff if they would be happy for their friends and family to be treated in the hospital to encourage high standards.
In addition the Care Quality Commission is to review induction training for care staff.
More nursing rounds will be implemented and improvements will be made to district nursing.
But Unison pointed out that dementia services had already seen cuts and that care providers would be forced to cut services to fund these plans.
The union said the plan should be set against the backdrop of government demands for cuts worth £20 billion by 2015.
"Unison welcomes any move to improve the care of NHS patients, but these plans are asking already stretched healthcare staff to provide more care with fewer resources," warned the union's head of nursing Gail Adams.
"Without significant additional funding, organisations are likely to struggle."