Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

‘Nurses need to start making their voices heard far more’


Huge congratulations to Eleanor Smith, one of the latest nurses to enter Parliament after the recent general election.

It is gratifying to see another nurse join the House of Commons as an MP, and express determination to raise the profile of nursing and healthcare. There are other nurses taking seats in Westminster, and to my mind, we cannot have too many.

We need nurse MPs to draw attention to issues that matter to nurses, other health professionals and public sector workers. In our interview with Ms Smith, she pledges not to stop fighting until the pay cap is lifted. That is laudable.

But Ms Smith raises another important point about the nursing profession, and why its members are best placed to enter politics – how their experience in advocating for patients means they have the necessary skills to represent their constituents and the wider public.

“This is a profession committed to doing the right thing”

They are pragmatic, tenacious in fighting for what is right, and superb prioritisers – all skills and qualities that are essential in today’s healthcare sector. This is a profession committed to doing the right thing. And we certainly need an infusion of that in the corridors of power at the Palace of Westminster.

The House of Lords has only three nurses, and as mighty as Baroness Mary Watkins, Baroness Audrey Emerton and Baron Hector MacKenzie are, we need more nurses to scrutinise draft legislation and steer policy towards a sensible course.

Nurses need to start making their voices heard far more. They speak up for patients, but they need to also speak up for themselves.

Nursing is experiencing turbulent times – as is healthcare more widely – and it needs a clear, focused and pragmatic approach to the problems of workforce, education and funding. Nurses cannot complain about decisions being made without them unless they are prepared to be part of the conversation. 

“It is far more challenging to try to be a part of the solution”

Sometimes, I witness people sitting at the sidelines in this profession, throwing brickbats at those making decisions. That is all too easy. It is far more challenging to try to be a part of the solution – to put yourself forward to help find the answers and offer leadership.

It is difficult and takes courage. When I see nurses like Ms Smith doing that, it makes me feel proud of this profession, and even more confident of the vast contribution that nurses can make. I wish her, and all the other nurses who are returning to or joining parliament, good luck.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Nursing is complex; its science, humanity, compassion, decision making all wrapped into one person.
    Nursing is a profession, its just as challenging and difficult as being a doctor.
    You should show the world what a Nurse does everyday and then bring people on your side.


    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • One of the problems with nursing is that once a nurse is qualified, they tend to remain on the same ward for years, limiting their knowledge to one area of care.
    All nurses, from ward managers downwards should rotate on a regular basis, HCA's every three months, qualifies staff every six months and ward managers annually, this would ensure their skills in all fields of nursing are kept up to date.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Re comment by .Anonymous' , It would mean that all would regularly be at the lowest salary rate; an excellent thing for the cash strapped N.H.S. The days when one could be fairly competent in many fields of practice are long gone. Just look at the effects of promotion beyond the 'level of competence,' .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.