Health secretary Andrew Lansley will be the first secretary of state or prime minister in eight years not to give a keynote speech at Royal College of Nursing annual conference next week.
Instead, he is due to attend a seminar at the congress in Liverpool as part of the government’s “listening exercise” on its reform agenda, a Department of Health spokeswoman confirmed.
Health minister and former district nurse Anne Milton will give the keynote speech on behalf of the government.
There was initial speculation in the national media today that Mr Lansley would not be attending the conference at all, drawing accusations that he was “snubbing” the profession.
Last year, both he and prime minister David Cameron addressed congress from the main platform.
Gordon Brown became the first prime minister to address the conference in the RCN’s 93-year history in 2009. Previous Labour health secretary Alan Johnson and Mr Cameron, then leader of the opposition, also gave speeches.
Have you signed our petition to ensure nurses have a seat on consortia boards? Follow @Aseatontheboard on twitter follow for all the latest campaign news!