Health and social care must be a “greater priority” for the next government, the leader of the Royal College of Nursing has said in the wake of the general election result.
She said ministers must commit to election promises to boost mental health care, as well as calling on them to provide assurances to NHS staff from European Union countries and to improve pay.
“Later this month, the Royal College of Nursing will launch a summer-long protest”
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, called on the prime minister not to “become consumed” with Brexit negotiations “to the detriment” of health and social care.
In a statement released this morning, she said: “In the time it takes to negotiate Britain’s exit, the NHS will fall further into disrepair unless the government begins to listen.
“Health and care services must be a greater priority for this government than they were for the last,” said Ms Davies.
“They must be funded to a higher level and we must see action on election promises, especially around mental health and the right to remain for health and care workers from across the EU,” she said.
“Hospitals, clinics and communities across the country are short of the nursing staff they need to provide safe care,” she said. “They are being driven out of the NHS by levels of pay that are as damaging to patient care standards as they are to a nurse’s family life.
“The government’s pay cap does nothing to help fill the 40,000 vacant nurse jobs in England alone,” she stated.
Ms Davies also highlighted that the college would launch a series of protests over the freeze on pay rises for staff on Agenda for Change later in June, as indicated at RCN congress last month.
She said: “Later this month, the Royal College of Nursing will launch a summer-long protest, calling on the government to scrap the 1% pay cap. It is simple: a pay rise that is deliberately held below inflation is in fact a pay cut.
“The cap, after years of pay freezes, means that nursing staff are 14% and at least £3,000 a year worse off than they were in 2010. This summer, the government has one last chance to scrap the cap,” she added.
Meanwhile, commenting on the election result, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a remarkable result that few predicted at the start of the campaign.
“From the outset UNISON believed that if Labour shifted the debate onto public services it could strike a chord with the electorate,” he said.