Q&A with the Labour party 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 Labour would recommit to the Pay Review Body process and we would not renege irresponsibly on the outcomes of the Pay Review Bodies, as the current Tory-led Government has done over the recent one per cent pay increase.
Ultimately, if David Cameron hadn’t wasted £3 billion on a reorganisation nobody wanted, the NHS would have a much better financial outlook than it has today.
Q What will you do to retain nurses in practice and do you agree that extra numbers of nurses in training are needed?
A Labour is committed to 20,000 more NHS nurses by 2020 to tackle the workforce crisis. Improving retention is one part of that, where we badly need a better culture so nurses feel supported not attacked.
“Labour is committed to 20,000 more NHS nurses by 2020”
But we also need to increase training places. Labour wants to see training places averaging 21,000 a year during the next Parliament, rather than the current 19,000.
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 Every nurse wants to do the best for their patients, and we understand the demands this job puts on nurses. Labour wants to help nurses cut down on time spent on non-essential paperwork, which has doubled under the Tory-led Government. We want to learn from nurses’ own experience to support them to improve care.
“Labour wants to help nurses cut down on time spent on non-essential paperwork”
We will ensure quality and safety initiatives are designed to stimulate a more culture of learning within Trusts, so staff experiences can be used to drive improvement.
A Labour Government will help give you more time to care by recruiting 20,000 more nurses to tackle the workforce crisis.
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 made a firm commitment to increasing nurse training places. The Tory-led Government has made short-sighted cuts to nurse training – with over 8,000 fewer places commissioned during this Parliament compared to 2010 levels – and that is one reason for rocketing overseas recruitment.
“We have made a firm commitment to increasing nurse training places”
Labour will increase training levels so we train an extra 10,000 nurses above current levels across the next Parliament.
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 Our commitment to 20,000 more nurses by 2020 isn’t simply about supporting existing models of care, but will be about helping re-shape services for the 21st Century, and our £2.5bn Time to Care Fund will provide substantial new resources to support service transformation. A key part of that will be helping to rebuild the community nursing workforce – for example, numbers of district nurses have fallen by 2,123 since 2010.
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 Labour is committed to tackling the fundamental issues that underlie future resource pressures on the NHS. Not only have we set out bold plans to raise extra resources for the NHS, through a mansion tax on properties worth over £2m, tackling tax avoidance and a new levy on tobacco companies – in total, some £2.5bn a year over and above Tory plans.
“We have set out plans to integrate services and to focus more on prevention and early intervention”
We have set out plans to integrate services and to focus more on prevention and early intervention, as well as rehabilitation and reablement, in order to ensure the NHS remains sustainable for the future.
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 want to make sure nurses are involved in both shaping and deciding health policy. That includes more of a role for nurse leaders – for example, we would like to see local nurse leaders on CCG boards. And we will not repeat the mistakes of this Tory-led Government who forced through a damaging, top-down reorganisation of the NHS against the wishes of nurses and other NHS staff.
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 All staff need to be supported to raise concerns, need to have confidence their concerns will be listened to and acted upon and need to know that they won’t suffer detriment as a result.
The Francis whistleblowing review contained a number of important recommendations to help foster a more open culture, which we support and want to see implemented, such as training for staff in raising concerns and clear accountability structures.
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 Labour will create a new NHS staff champion to help improve workplace culture and cut the high rates of work-related stress, bullying and violence that too many staff face.
“We will also take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to physical or verbal abuse against people who work in our NHS”
We will also take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to physical or verbal abuse against people who work in our NHS, and work with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service on the powers they need to protect staff and ensure criminal assaults do not go unpunished.
Q What do you see as your number one policy priority for nursing?
A We want to ensure nurses have enough time to give the care they want to patients by tackling the workforce crisis and recruiting 20,000 more nurses.