So the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives have decided that enough is enough and it’s time to oppose the Health and Social Care Bill.
Cue the government trying to deﬂect the RCN’s criticism by claiming that the college is only concerned about its members’ pay and pensions and is not thinking of the patients. I hardly think so.
The RCN didn’t vote to take a day of action on November 30, and it is balloting members on whether to accept the latest pension proposals next month. It has tried hard to negotiate on this clearly separate issue. It’s unfair to suggest everything the RCN is now saying regarding the bill is about the personal agenda of nurses.
And it’s also been pretty clear that the RCN has long been concerned about the damage this bill would do to the NHS. Its Frontline First campaign has monitored closely what is happening to trusts and shown how the current climate is harming services.
RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter has given many speeches emphasising the importance of nurses redesigning services to help meet the Nicholson Challenge. And the RCN has tried to work closely with the government to effect change in the bill. After making little headway with the collaborative approach it has now decided to adopt more extreme measures.
Nurses are concerned the NHS is being dismantled. They love the NHS, believe in it and want to protect it. They are also concerned about the way the changes are being introduced - many before the bill becomes law, and their potential effects on care.
So don’t go on the defensive, Mr Lansley. Actually listen to the nurses who work in and care about this service, and don’t dismiss their attempts to save the NHS as self-serving nonsense. Because it isn’t.
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