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

EDITOR’S COMMENT

'Peter Carter led RCN through tough times'

  • 4 Comments

Last week Peter Carter left his position as chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, abdicating his throne to his colleague Janet Davies.

Jenni Middleton

He’s led the college through some of the roughest times in its history. It faced near financial ruin when he took up the post, and he used his skills as a former chief executive to bring the college back to rude fiscal health.

But he also had to lead a profession working through severe austerity measures.

The pay restraint raised pressure for industrial action from some union members, although most didn’t vote in favour of downing tools and picking up placards.

“The pay restraint raised pressure for industrial action from some union members”

The college - and Dr Carter personally - faced criticism in the Francis Report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire.

He acknowledged he had written a letter praising the care at Mid Staffs just before the scandal broke, but always claimed that he saw good nursing, and did not visit the “problem” wards.

Like Dr Carter I frequently visit hospitals and understand his point - we aren’t there to do an inspection but to meet and talk to nurses, so there’s always a risk that you’re carefully steered away from trouble spots.

The Francis report acknowledged that nursing care was excellent in parts of the hospital, so it’s not necessarily unreasonable to go away with a good impression.

His style was to negotiate as much as possible - to be on the inside helping the decision be made, and to apply pressure to MPs.

“He didn’t shy away from firing warning shots at Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron about a range of subjects that mattered to nursing”

His detractors claim he was too cosy with those in power. And yet he didn’t shy away from firing warning shots at Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron about a range of subjects that mattered to nursing - pay, unsocial hours, pensions, workforce planning, mandatory staffing levels and the recent rules around some overseas nurses being forced to leave if they don’t earn over £35,000.

“Since the Conservative government came into power, safe staffing guidance has seemed in jeopardy”

As Janet takes over at the RCN, many of those challenges still exist, and she will need a loud voice and a strong resolve to fight for what nursing needs.

Since the Conservative government came into power, safe staffing guidance has seemed in jeopardy, there are no additional nurses on the wards, the pay restraint continues and homegrown nurses are still in short supply.

This is not a time for giving up, but for digging in. Good luck to Janet. Everyone at Nursing Times is right behind any plans she has to make the profession more vocal and more visible.

Jenni Middleton, editor

jenni.middleton@emap.com

Follow me on Twitter: @nursingtimesed

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • michael stone

    'Like Dr Carter I frequently visit hospitals and understand his point - we aren’t there to do an inspection but to meet and talk to nurses, so there’s always a risk that you’re carefully steered away from trouble spots.'

    Fine - just do not over-claim, about 'how good the entire hospital is', then.

    I might be wrong - following exactly what Dr Carter said wasn't an objective of mine - but my impression is that he wasn't very forceful in criticising the plans for the 2013 NHS reorganisation before it happened, and that he has only become 'more outspoken' in the run-up to his retirement from the RCN's top job. Of course, perhaps he was 'outspoken [talking to goverment] behind closed doors' - but if the RCN actually felt that a goverment policy would be bad, but didn't make that clear to the public, we were surely being hood-winked ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "Tough times" - sure. "Led" is a bit of a stretch, IMHO.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "Led"
    A huge word not usually associated with PC.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 17-Aug-2015 11:10 am

    I discussed some legal points with the RCN's Legal Director a few years ago by e-mail, but I don't usually find trying to discuss stuff with the RCN all that purposeful.

    I can't remember if Peter Carter has ever actually replied to me, but I've an idea I have sent material to him.

    It took you a long time to get round to abusing my post above - perhaps you've been away on holiday ?

    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.

Related Jobs