With general election campaigning entering its second week, Nursing Times asked the three main parties about their policies for nurses
Improvements in NHS waiting times and quality are expected to play a huge part in the Labour party’s pitch for a fourth term in power and a party spokesman said it recognised the “central role” nurses had already played in delivering these.
If the Labour Party won the next election, it would further modernise nursing careers and training – including continuing with plans to make it an all graduate entry profession –and make it easier for nurses to pursue clinical practice alongside academic research.
The party would also develop “new national standards for advanced and autonomous nursing roles”, and give nurses and midwives a more prominent role in shaping the future of the NHS.
While the other two main parties say they will continue to give the NHS “real terms” spending increases, the Liberal Democrats say this is “irresponsible”. A party spokesman said their pledge instead was to “protect frontline services by making the NHS work better with the money it has”.
But he said the party was aware that NHS staff were “sick of being told how money could be saved”. Instead, the party has been asking nurses and other staff for their own ideas. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will unveil these later this month.
The party is also pledging to give NHS staff a vote on whether their trust should become wholly owned by them.
In contrast, a Conservative Party spokesman said their pitch to nurses centred on “allowing them to do what they do best – nurse”. That would involve reducing the amount of paper work, “needless box ticking” and targets.
The party is also pledging to give nurses a greater say in running the NHS and has promised a “ward to board” approach, so the voice of nurses is heard by managers. It has also promised a guarantee that whistleblowers will not lose their jobs.
Shadow health minister Anne Milton, the party’s lead on nursing, has also argued that nurses should have more involvement in commissioning, particularly as part of GP practice-based commissioning teams.