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Nurses will be at the heart of NHS reforms, Nick Clegg vows


Nurses will be “right at the heart” of delivering reformed services under the Liberal Democrats, party leader Nick Clegg has promised.

Speaking to an excitable audience at the Royal College of Nursing’s Congress, Mr Clegg said nurses were the people “the NHS will rely on more and more in future years”.

You should be showing us how to run [the NHS] not the other way round

Outlining the £3.6bn a year efficiency savings that would be made in areas such as reducing preoperative bed days, he said: “I can’t make these things change, only you can, so tell us how.

“You should be showing us how to run [the NHS] not the other way round.”

He said his policies would give more power to staff, patients and the public, for example by replacing primary care trusts with elected health boards, made up of two thirds directly elected members and one third local councillors.

Employee empowerment was a “fundamental old fashioned liberal principle”, he said, highlighting the party’s support for employee owned organisations such as Central Surrey Health and John Lewis.

He said the Lib Dems would “allow the NHS to breathe…without constantly being second guessed by other people”.

Every nurse earning less than £40,000 a year would be better off under the Lib Dems compared with Labour or the Conservatives, he said.

In addition, existing NHS pensions built up after years of service in the health service would be safeguarded.

He said “We believe we can and must protect services in the NHS but we can only do so if we face up to the realities of the situation in which we find ourselves.”

Money would be also saved by scrapping strategic health authorities and reducing administration costs.

Mr Clegg was repeatedly cheered and clapped throughout his speech and at one point had to ask the audience to let him finish his sentence. He received a standing ovation, as did prime minister Gordon Brown yesterday.

Responding to the speech, RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said he was happy Mr Clegg answered questions from the audience but that more policy details were needed.

He said: “I would’ve liked to have some more detail about what standards are to be taken out.”

Dismantling PCTs would cost money in the short term, he added.


Readers' comments (5)

  • We don't want reform Nick. We've been 'reforming' the NHS for at least 30 years.

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  • No choice, above, thanks to the merchant bankers

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  • Martin Gray

    Well at least the Lib Dems are making the right noises about the changes needed in the NHS, and where these should fall. Unfortunately reform is necessary due to the level of deficit, and tough changes will have to be made even if they are unpopular. We need to consider the long term effects, not the short term, as all change takes time.

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  • Steve Williams

    Blah blah blah...... and so it goes on. I've been hearing this nonsense since 'Sunny' Jim Callaghan unexpectedly took over from Harold 'Cutting Edge of Technology' Wilson when I started my nursing career.

    Nurses are always going to be treated better under the NEXT government - the trouble is that when they get elected they are not the NEXT government, they are the CURRENT one and therefore they feel free to ignore the pledges they made in the run up to the election.

    Forget about nursing being ignored (as it always has been) go and see how your "Gold Plated" NHS pension will be trashed if you retire to a Commonwealth country at

    Yup, if you decide to retire in a Commonwealth country, your pension "Gold Plated" NHS pension will be frozen and then annually reduced. Do we see that being highlighted as a newsworthy issue in the Nursing Times?


    Instead we get "Compostable washbowls from Colchester " as a headline (old shit that has - literally - been around for thirty years!)

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  • The other two parties have run the NHS since its formation it was cash starved under the last tory government I hope this does not happen again if there is a change of party in power. I believe it is time to give the liberal democtats a chance.

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