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Miliband: Attacks on nursing are 'totally unfair'

  • 6 Comments

Attacking the nursing profession over isolated examples of bad practice “is totally unfair”, Labour leader Ed Miliband has told Nursing Times.

Mr Miliband spoke to Nursing Times shortly after his keynote speech to the Royal College of Nursing annual Congress in Harrogate yesterday.

He discussed his views on a range of key nursing issues including where he stood on criticism in the media of care standards and claims that nurses were becoming “too posh to wash” or should not be graduates.

He said: “Having nurses with degrees is a good thing, not a bad thing. And I think somehow making a generalised attack on the nursing profession because of isolated, but deeply distressing, examples of bad practice is totally unfair because the vast majority of nurses do a fantastic job.

“I believe all the nurses here [at RCN Congress] would be appalled as members of the public by some of the bad examples [of care]. But to then somehow besmirch the name of either nurses in general or people who do degrees in particular, it seems to me, is quite wrong.”

Mr Miliband also criticised the government’s restructuring of the NHS for wasting money that could be spent on protecting jobs, describing the widespread cuts currently taking place to nursing posts as an “absolute scandal”.

“The most important thing I’d do is not go ahead with this reorganisation and save billions of pounds and not be making nurses redundant,” he said when asked by Nursing Times what would be the one thing he would do to make things better for the profession.

“It’s an absolute scandal this is happening. And it’s an absolute scandal you’ve got nurses in training who are not going to get jobs.”

Mr Miliband repeated the view expressed in his speech that he supported Agenda for Change, while making no promises to repeal changes made to it by the coalition.

Asked about his views on regional and local pay, he said: “We’re not in favour of that kind of approach. We want a national pay framework.

“We think that’s the right way forward. Of course there can sometimes be variations about high cost areas and so on, but our overall position is for a national pay framework.” 

However, he was less clear when asked to clarify his views on the expansion of these variations around high cost areas. For example, the government has proposed to the NHS Pay Review Body that “London weighting” should be expanded to other affluent areas.

“I’m not going to get into the detail of that. A more general position is the one I’m saying,” he said.

Mr Miliband was also asked whether he currently had a position on high profile nursing issues such as the introduction of minimum nurse to patient ratios and the need to boost the status of the ward sister.

He told Nursing Times that the party would look at some of these areas “as part of a policy review”.

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • Yes Mr Miliband it is an absolute scandal- I qualified in March with Degree of Adult Nursing Practice and I am now unemployed!!!
    In all of my working years I have never been in this position, I risk losing my home as I am unable to pay my mortgage I have had for 15 years and all because I wanted to make a difference to people’s lives and be a nurse. Now I am left unemployed, unable to join the nursing bank as they are not recruiting and unable to join the nursing agency as I apparently 'don’t have any experience'!!!!!
    Yet as I visit my local hospital the wards are crying out for staff, call bells are ringing and patients are in pain but they cannot recruit more staff as they have no money to do so.
    What on earth has the world come to???

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  • the damage has been done, no-one respects or cares about nurses now.

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  • It is clear that in most places, there isn't enough staff to care for everyone the way they should be. Ask anyone, 'if they're ill, would they prefer to be cared for by well qualified, skilled people or people with less skills, qualifications and experience?'.
    It's not just about staffing:patient ratios, it's also about the acuity of patients and their conditions, where you might need 2 or more staff to help care for 1 patient.

    Long term savings of employing more well trained, passionate and committed staff vs short term money saving cuts is a no-brainer. You must be able to get well over £20+ billions (£17.5bn as Lansley puts it) worth of savings if you prevent future health problems, such as operations, replacements, long term medications, feeding, washing, dressing, etc and people would have much better quality of life as they get older if health promotion and prevention were implemented at a much earlier stage.

    What is the value of improving human lives? If the NHS was turned into a business, organisations will see vast opportunities, the top people will make huge profits, while the rest of us will pay for it sooner or later and when we need care, we won't be able to afford it. Prevention is better than cure.

    Nurses are doing fantastic jobs under extremely challenging and thankless conditions. Its amazing nurses are still able to maintain their professionalism, morale, compassion and focus on patient care when under such barrage of negative publicity, constant criticisms, lack of resources and support from the very people we need help from.

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  • I wonder what the health of the nation is going to look like if this situation continues. it surely can't be acceptable to have such an large population who are sick, vulnerable or elderly and cannot get adequate care and support and are unable to work and contribute to the economy. surely to this end it is in everybody as well as the country's best interests to have a healthy and dynamic population to work and contribute to capital growth and be financially independent.

    that the government would want an increasingly sick, mentally unhealthy and depressed nation on their hands is unforeseeable. Are they just greedy and persistently trying to cut corners when they have been warned by the healthcare professionals and experts of the dangers, scared of the financial deficit or do they really not understand the consequences of their actions and the true gravity of it all.

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  • I spent 31 years working for the NHS,
    in the field of mental health. For the first 15 years I worked with people suffering from mental illnes, the next 16 year I worked for them!

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  • Thank you Mr Miliband, at least some humane person is saying the obvious.

    Firstly, I like to note that there has been a misplaced priority where savings for the Conservative government has a higher place in order, to protection of patients' health and well-being. This is a growing trend which needs a retuning like the recent GCSE turn around by Gove.

    Secondly, nurses are just too easily blamed for poor quality care when it is glaringly evident that, they are continuously overstretched in delivering care. What happened to nurse-patient-ratios? Britian remains a respected country everywhere in the world and should show and uphold what is right. She as a nation cannot do this until the house is put in order. The earlier, the better.

    Lastly, the majority of nurses stay in the profession because like me, nothing gives them more satisfaction than to care and nuture people back to health. Nothing kills the spirit like doing with all your heart and still get criticised for it. Yes, we believe our rewards await us when we are gone, but encourage us in any way you can to give our best because only the best befits our cherished patients.

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