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Nurses 'tired of being treated with contempt by politicians', warns RCN president

Nurses need to “use the power of the ballot box and the vote, and not their feet” to make their voices heard, according to the Royal College of Nursing’s president.

In her last speech to congress Andrea Spyropoulos, urged delegates to “get political” to ensure that politicians realised their strength of feeling about pay and staffing.

“We need to stand together and send a strong message that nurses have had enough”

Andrea Spyropoulos

In a statement aimed at politicians, she said: “Be careful what you wish for. If you take nurses down the purely profit route, think again.

“In the market economy you pay for what you use, and that means nursing time. Time means money,” she said.

“If you think going down the dividends route, then think again,” she said. “If politicians want more nurses, they need to pay them enough.”


Andrea Spyropoulos

Ms Spyropoulos said she had heard about band 5 nurses who had been forced to visit food banks to survive.

“It is time for change,” said she told RCN members at their annual conference in Liverpool.

“To make change, we have to fight for it. We all have to make change and be political. We need to stand together and send a strong message that nurses have had enough,” she said.

“They are tired of being the scapegoat. They are tired of choosing between leaving their patients and leaving their families, and being treated with contempt by politicians,” she added.

Ms Spyropoulos also said that nurses were tired of being “blackmailed” and “undervalued”.

“Everybody has a breaking point and our nursing staff are fast approaching it,” she warned.

In addition, she set out a list of outstanding issues that wished to tackle on behalf of the profession as she entered the last six months of her RCN presidency.

“I’d like the press to realise it’s the system and not the nurses that fail”

Andrea Spyropoulos

The list included tackling gender and equality issues “for a female dominated profession” that lacked “leaders at the top”.

She also highlighted the need for a “strong, cohesive nursing workforce” and said she would like to see “education considered essential and not a luxury”.

Finally, she called for the national media to be more supportive of the profession.

“I’d like the press to realise it’s the system and not the nurses that fail,” she said.

“I’d love them to start scrutinising the system and not the poor people trapped in it trying to make it work,” she added.

Readers' comments (11)

  • tinkerbell

    Agree that nurses need to understand how we are being used as a pawn in a political game. Nurses are not usually up to speed when it comes to politics but we all need to up our game now and get some understanding otherwise nursing for the future may be a thing of the past.

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  • michael stone

    I would comment, that 'stand up and fight' (my phrasing) isn't what I perceived the RCN to be doing when various doctors were forcibly objecting to the recent changes to the NHS before they were turned into law: the RCN didn't seem to be standing up for the NHS back then.

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  • michael stone | 19-Jun-2014 9:53 am

    ah, so you are a participating member of congress and know exactly what is happening
    so you can form your opinions!

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  • michael stone

    My comment was not about this congress, as it makes clear.

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  • michael stone | 19-Jun-2014 3:18 pm

    my comment was about congress which it also makes quite clear and was to point out that as usual you are commenting here on a nursing site about nursing affairs without having the least notion what you are talking about.

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  • michael stone | 19-Jun-2014 3:18 pm

    ...just like a wee parrot!

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  • I wish nurses would stand together as one voice that gets heard...I am struggling to make ends meet right now with money. I cannot believe I spent three years at university, hold such a lot of responsibility in my job, and yet I am not able to afford food ! When will things get better for us nurses, when will the media stop running smear campaigns against hard working nurses who try to do nothing but the best for their patients ?

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  • perhaps the many and diverse roles of nurses should be more openly publicised so everybody from top down, the PM and Minister of Health to all of the men in the street, has a very clear picture of what they do and all their responsibilities.

    nurses have never shaken off the stereotypical public perception that they are doctors' handmaidens and were once angels and are now quite the opposite, and somehow seem to have grown horns, which has shattered public expectations and they blame degrees and all manner of other causes but fail to question their own understanding.

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  • Anonymous | 19-Jun-2014 6:52 pm:
    Would you stop being so rude please? This is public forum and Michael has every right to comment, regardless of the fact that he is not either a nurse or at congress. Actually he has a valid point. The RCN were woefully and shamefully mealy mouthed when the H&SC act was being trumpeted through the HoC. As were most of the nursing profession

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  • bob


    "The RCN were woefully and shamefully mealy mouthed when the H&SC act was being trumpeted through the HoC."

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 23-Jun-2014 7:38 am

    Who is this 'idem' character ? Does it mean that you are a Liberal Democrat ?

    And you reproduced Bob's comment - I've no idea if that means you agree with Bob (and me), or not.

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