Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

PM accused of ‘contempt’ for RCN and nursing profession with congress no-show


The prime minister has shown “contempt” to the Royal College of Nursing and nurses generally by not attending this year’s RCN annual conference, according to its members.

Theresa May this morning confirmed she will not be attending RCN congress this week, despite the leaders of Labour and the Liberal Democrats both addressing delegates at the event yesterday.

All leaders of the political parties were invited to Liverpool and told that time would be made for them on the congress agenda, shortly after the snap general election was announced.

It was hoped that after Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron addressed nurses on Monday pressure would mount on Theresa May to attend personally or send health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Yet as congress opened this morning, RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies read out an email she had received from Ms May’s office confirming the prime minister would not attend the event.

The email sent her “best wishes” to the general secretary for a “successful event” and said that the government had invested in “thousands” more nursing jobs while in power.

The full text of the PM’s letter:

“I am afraid that it will not be possible for the prime minister to attend the Royal College of Nursing congress this year, but please do accept her best wishes for a successful event.

Britain’s nurses do a fantastic job and deserve our thanks and support. They ensure that patients in our NHS get world-class care, and so we have made it a priority to recruit thousands more since we’ve been in government to help those already working hard.

The Conservative Party’s manifesto will be published shortly and will set out how we will go on supporting the NHS in the next Parliament.

Thank you again for the invitation.”

However, as the comments about nurses deserving “thanks and support” were read out, some members of the audience shouted out “pay”.

Shortly afterwards, a call was made for an emergency item to be added to the congress agenda stating that the prime minister was showing the RCN and nurses “contempt” by not attending.

The proposed resolution also asked Ms Davies to reply to Ms May’s letter “in the strongest terms”.

To applause, the emergency resolution was voted onto the agenda and just as swiftly was passed without debate.

It was proposed by RCN member Linda Bailey and seconded by former college president Andrea Spyropoulos.

Wording of the resolution:

That this meeting of RCN Congress deplores the contempt shown in the letter from the prime minster for the Royal College of Nursing and the nursing family, and asks the general secretary to reply to her in the strongest possible terms





Readers' comments (6)

  • Can somebody ask Jane Cummings for her comments on this please?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • She would have got a terrible reception because most nurses are left wingers. Yes, pay should be higher for nursing staff and less for managers and the parking fees should be done away with. In comparison to other professionals, nurses are NOT paid enough, but more pay means less nurses on the present budget. Less nurses, more burn-out for remaining staff. We needs a good economy to be able to put more into health and social care and indeed for staff care. That can only be achieved with a Conservative Government. Whenever Labour have been in power, they have ruined the economy, leading to depressions. I can say this, though my home town and family have always been for Labour

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The word 'nurse' will be forever be associated with the image of the 'nurturing mother' who does not need the reward of being paid for this natural attribute. Hence the word 'professional nurse' will never the twain will meet and therefore will not be paid as professionals who are considered to be technically and intellectually skilled and should be paid accordingly.
    Nurses were initially men who cared for the sick on the battlefields in the Middle Ages, maybe if it became an all male profession we would be paid as grown ups who do have careers, families and a middle class lifestyle like the Financial sector.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To anonymous 16/05/17 1253, we have had a conservative government for 7 years and the NHS is in a worse state than when Labour were in charge. We do need funding increased across the NHS and social care but it won't happen under May.
    As for Labour ruining the economy - don't believe everything the right wing press and the tories spout! Sir Edmund King (ex Bank of England boss) and several financial experts have said the 2008 crash would have happened whoever was in power, it had nothing to do with the Labour party. It was solely down to bad lending by the banks!
    Corbyn is a breath of fresh air in British politics and when he says he will improve the lot of nurses then I believe him.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Helen there were other depressions caused by Labour and every time they left office, the country was in crisis. I am a bit older and have seen more, but i do think NHS needs more money, but where from? and as I said, too many chiefs and not enough indians. Get rid of of the top heavy managerial lot

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think it is an untruth and a generalisation to say " most nurses are left wingers " . I am sure there is the same political range of views in nursing as in the general population except that nurses will know first hand about the politics that affect their day to day working lives . They may choose to vote conservative because of other issues

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.