The Royal College of Nursing’s leadership is too close to a government poised to make massive NHS cuts, according to a candidate for election to its governing council.
Mike Travis, a nurse at Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust, is standing to represent the north-west region in the RCN council elections, for which voting begins tomorrow (Wednesday).
Mr Travis compared the RCN with the British Medical Association whose ruling council last week voted to begin a public campaign for the Health and Social Care Bill to be withdrawn.
“We need to ask whether the RCN is a membership-led organisation or whether it is a staff-led organisation,” he said.
“You can have your big meetings in London but nothing will come out of them - the reforms have already started. There’s only so much talking you can do with the government.”
Mr Travis, who previously served on the council from 1999 to 2007, urged the RCN to “give the battle over to stewards” who were fighting cuts in local hospitals.
He said a number of other candidates in the poll shared his view that the RCN was too close to ministers.
Peter Carter, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, last month was reported as saying there were too many acute hospitals.
He has been a regular visitor to Downing Street in recent months as he attempted to influence NHS reforms - but he has spoken out recently against cuts.
Responding to Mr Travis’s comments, an RCN spokesperson said the college had “been fighting hard for members” since the bill was published last year, winning “major successes”, such as enshrining the role of nurses in the local commissioning of services.
They added: “The RCN has also repeatedly condemned the short term decisions taken by trusts over the past year to cut frontline jobs and services. Through our Frontline First campaign, we have led the way in tracking each and every post loss and service cut, highlighting to the government, stakeholders and media how these cuts will affect patient care.”
Voting in the RCN council poll closes on 14 September, with results declared five days later. There is one seat for each region and devolved nation, and for the RCN’s student members.