Q&A with the Plaid Cymru on its 2015 election manifesto
Q How will your party ensure nurses are adequately remunerated, so that their pay reflects changes in inflation and the unsocial hours involved?
A Plaid Cymru supported the campaign for the government to recognise the independent pay body recommendation for a 1% pay rise.
After years of suffering real terms cuts due to austerity, we do not believe it is fair for this to continue.
As a party that is against austerity, we believe in public services and looking after the staff. We would therefore accept that pay should be determined by the independent body.
“As a party that is against austerity, we believe in public services and looking after the staff.”
More generally, we need to restore the perception of a career in the public sector as being of equal worth to that of the private sector. Whilst the financial industry continues to reward its staff excessively, particularly senior management, people in the public sector have had to put up with years of real terms pay cuts and attacks on terms and conditions.
We want to get to the situation where young people see a career in public service – be it a Nurse, Police Officer, Teacher, Doctor or whatever – as of equal value as the private sector, and perhaps more importantly, that this is understood within other political parties as well as Plaid Cymru.
Q What will you do to retain nurses in practice and do you agree that extra numbers of nurses in training are needed?
A We agree that extra nurses in training are needed, as the demands on the health service will only go up, and the existing workforce is getting closer to retirement.
We believe that we can retain nurses (and attract those lost to the profession) back through ensuing appropriate professional development, the creation of more advanced nurse practitioner posts, and ending the down banding and de-skilling of posts.
“We believe that we can retain nurses”
More generally, we believe that creating a paperless NHS to eliminate paperwork would mean an improvement in working conditions.
Q What would you say to a nurse who goes home every night knowing that she hasn’t given the best care for her patients?
A He or she needs to express concerns, confidentially if needed, to the appropriate people, or their elected representative if needed. Unfortunately many examples of poor patient care are often down to the pressures created by unsafe levels of staffing and poor management, which is something that needs the intervention of government to put right.
Q What will you do to prevent the boom and bust approach to workforce planning that we have had for the past decade?
A We have been calling for a national workforce plan for Wales for several years now.
Such a plan would include Nurses, Doctors, Occupational Therapists and so on, and needs to be a long term -10 years – plan that accounts for the demographic changes that are changing the nature of healthcare.
“We have been calling for a national workforce plan for Wales for several years now”
On the financial side, the move to longer term financial planning (3-year rolling budgets) will help with this, and was something we supported in Wales.
Q What will you do to rectify the skills gap in the community nursing workforce – eg lack of district nurses – to enable people living with long term conditions to be better supported at home?
A We want more nurses generally, although the historic under-investment in the community workforce means that it may take longer than we would like to reach the levels needed.
“We must ensure that nurses who begin the qualification to become a district nurse are allowed to complete the qualification”
But in the short term, we must ensure that nurses who begin the qualification to become a district nurse are allowed to complete the qualification – as this isn’t always the case in some health boards.
Q More complex treatment and an ageing population raise resource issues that no political party wants to tackle for fear of losing votes. Is cross-party working on the NHS the only way forward?
A Plaid Cymru of course is against the privatisation of the NHS, and is against austerity, so we approach the health service from this perspective, where some other parties may not.
“Our record is one of constructive contributions to the NHS”
We have always focused on providing constructive solutions to the problems faced in the service. That’s why we published proposals on training and recruiting 1000 extra doctors (a document that also contained proposals for nurses as well), integration of health and social care, and a sugary drinks tax to tackle obesity.
We also negotiated a £55 million intermediate care fund to tackle the problems of chronically ill people having no alternatives to A&E. So our record is one of constructive contributions to the NHS.
Q What will you do to ensure the voice of nursing is heard when deciding health policy and do you think nurse leaders should have an advisory role on a par with senior doctors?
A We consult with all professional bodies when developing our health policy, and have always given the views of nursing bodies equal importance.
Q Is the Care Quality Commission a friend or foe of nurses? What would you do to ensure the CQC is effective in creating an open culture for staff to raise concerns?
A The Care Quality Commission doesn’t operate in Wales, where we have Healthcare Inspectorate Wales.
“We are also concerned about Nurses getting the blame for problems that can clearly be attributed to managerial or political decisions”
Unfortunately we’ve seen problems in the way the inspectorate works, and would work to improve it through ensuring it has the resources and independence needed to truly identify failures in care.
We are also concerned about Nurses getting the blame for problems that can clearly be attributed to managerial or political decisions, and this must be addressed. However, Nurses should not fear the work of a well-run inspectorate which identifies and addresses concerns when raised. We also believe more needs to be done to protect whistle-blowers
Q The safety of nurses at the workplace should be a priority. What policies, if any, do you have in mind to ensure the safety of nursing staff?
A We want local health boards to defend nurses and put every effort into providing evidence to prosecute any individual who is violent against a health care worker
Q What do you see as your number one policy priority for nursing?
A Letting nurses do their jobs to care for patients without the constant interference from management.