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Carter and Lansley in row over RCN support for bill


The Royal College of Nursing and health secretary Andrew Lansley entered a fresh war of words over the health bill this week.

Speaking on BBC 2’s Newsnight programme on Wednesday, Mr Lansley accused RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter of having sat in his office “on more than one occasion” last year and said “we support the bill”.

He claimed the college had withdrawn its support for the bill in January because it was “angry with the government” over other issues such as pay and pensions.

This prompted Mr Carter to issue a statement on Thursday in which he said that “contrary to the secretary of state’s claims” the RCN “never actively supported” the bill.  

“We initially welcomed underlying principles behind the bill, however, the proposals will not deliver on those principles originally set out,” he said. “This is not an issue about pay or pensions – it’s about genuine, honestly held concerns about the quality of patient care and where the health service is headed.”


Readers' comments (16)

  • Peter Carter says“This is not an issue about pay or pensions – it’s about genuine, honestly held concerns about the quality of patient care and where the health service is headed.”

    THE RCN ballot proved that! What a rollover. Lansley can do whatever he likes now that he knows theirs no fight from RCN members.

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  • Anonymous

    One of the GPs who represents a group who have been trialling commissioning, recently pointed out that he (or perhaps his group) do not support the Bill - he supported PARTS OF ITS LOGIC AND OBJECTIVES. Carter, is saying the same thing, it seems - supporting some aspects of the Bill, does not imply supporting the Bill as a whole.

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  • talk about flogging a dead horse, none of my collegues at work are interested in taking any kind of action about opposing these reforms or pension changes, as one said 'they will do what they like anyway'. When i answered 'if we all took that attitude we'd all be living in Nazi germany now, we have to fight for what we believe'. I couldn't get one nurse to come to the NHS rally on 7 March (maybe they just don't want to go with me) but I am left with the sad conclusions that they don't really care at all or don't understand or are too scared to do anything or just think 'i'm alright jack i still have a job and a pension'. I still have a job too and a pension but what about the next generation of nurses. If these reforms are stopped it won't be nurses who stopped them given the response of nurses where i work. There may be a few nurses on here who obviously feel strongly about trying to make a difference and make their voices heard but i feel we are in a very small minority. At the end of the discussion one said to me 'we're right behind you' and i said 'i don't want you behind me i want you alongside me'. I have decided not to wear myself out with it anymore, after over a year of banging on i have learned i am preaching to the wrong audience. We never stop learning.

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  • sounds as though Mr Carter may not have made it perfectly clear to Mr Lansley which parts of the bill he actively supported and which parts he actively rejected!

    I think those who already have their pension secured have done more than their bit to defend their patients' rights to good care and the future of nursing. the young do not want to be involved for many different reasons of their own or stand up for their patients, their working conditions or their career and futures so why don't we just now stand back and relax, enjoy our benefits and leave them to their lot. after all we won't be there to share their future problems with them after we retire or are gone. The only problem is we are all stakeholders whether we like it or not and in our old being we would also like reassurance that we will be taken good care of and have our healthcare needs adequately, safely and appropriately met.

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  • Anonymous | 4-Mar-2012 12:12 pm

    think you are probably right. I will stand down after 7 March.

    Can you recommend a cheap private healthcare insurance that will cover my many pre existing conditions and cover my old age? :)

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  • DN
    It was fairly obvious that Andrew Lansley was just twisting the RCN's work to suit them. It is a shame that when the RCN tried to work with the government for a decent length of time before having to admit defeat and condemn the health and social care bill that they are abused in this way. What does that say - in future just join the other unions and protest from the start just to be sure that you don't get singled out for this abuse. NO wonder people think we can't win.

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  • There seems to be little hope now of seeing any improvements in Britain in any of the services, let alone the NHS, in the near future.

    The agenda of the government being economy driven is simply not the same as that of HC professionals, which is care orientated, and who have expressed what it needs to improve patient care. This can only happen with adequate staffing levels at patient level with better training and improved working conditions, including career structure, salaries, pensions and a reasonable and flexible retirement age, so that focus can be on their job of care rather than wasting energy fighting for survival of their jobs.

    Reduction in unnecessary and costly administration and layers of management is also essential as are any other requirements they may have been expressed to fulfil these needs.

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  • Little One

    Anonymous | 4-Mar-2012 12:12 pm

    I'm 24 this year, qualifiying in September and doing all I can to get people to talk about what is happening to our NHS, the rallies that are being held, the UNISON strike, the upcoming UNISON survey on the 6th and I don't have my 'pension secured' and by the looks of things will be about 75 by the time I get to retire.

    "the young do not want to be involved for many different reasons of their own or stand up for their patients, their working conditions or their career and futures so why don't we just now stand back and relax, enjoy our benefits and leave them to their lot."

    I am standing up for all of these things, and actually have found that it is middle aged Nurses (40+) who are all too happy to sit back and say "I'm alright Jack". Most of the qualified Nurses I speak to about things didn't even know that they could go on strike, and didn't want to because they didn't think it would make any difference.

    I care greatly about my patients, about working conditions and my future but older nurses seem just as apathetic as the younger ones, you can't just blame this on us. We should all pull together not turn on each other.

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  • Little One | 4-Mar-2012 7:21 pm

    Anonymous | 4-Mar-2012 12:12 pm

    I am referring to older nurses who are nearing retirement or like myself who is already retired. many of us have worked hard for 40 + years and done our bit and also done a good bit in the recent crisis to lend support to those against the acceptance of the new bill but there are limits to what each one of us can and should do from the side lines and it is frustrating to see the results of the RCN vote and how little many of the professionally active nurses have done.

    It is time for some of us now to sit back and watch and relax and enjoy some leisure and retirement and let younger generations of nurses take over from us instead of spending all of our hard earned free time continuously fighting for others who seem to have done little to help themselves - it can be exhausting and psychologically draining for us older ones. I just hope that there will be some care for us when we need it like that my colleagues and myself have given to others.

    I am sure, Little One, there are many like you who take the situation very seriously and do all you can but it is sad that many cannot be motivated to support the cause, not only for their own but for their colleagues and those who will follow them. It has now become their problem and no longer ours and we have already had our fill of different problems throughout our careers.

    I still contribute to my profession but personally I prefer to do it at a clinical and academic level rather than a political one but this time I felt compelled to make my contribution so that there will be a better care for the patients in the future through better training, better career structure and improved working conditions. It is no skin off my nose, however, as for most of my career I have worked in a centre of excellence (both for patients and for the staff) and am fortunate enough to have considerable and long years of experience in a well functioning organisation as well as some in poorly functioning ones with which I can compare it.

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  • Little One | 4-Mar-2012 7:21 pm

    I genuinely feel for you Little One because you have done your best to fight for the cause but also have to now sadly agree that due to the apathy i have encountered from my younger colleagues am no longer prepared to waste my time and energy rallying for my colleagues who seem not to care at all.

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