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.
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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