In a letter sent to the new health secretary by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), they outline the challenges currently facing the NHS and call for increased investment in the health service before winter.
Penning the letter, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen invited Ms Atkins to discuss the NHS crisis as soon as possible.
Ms Cullen raised issues including waiting lists, nursing staff shortages, NHS pay and non-Agenda for Change pay, the ethical recruitment of international nursing staff, and the cost-of-living crisis.
A privately educated barrister with extensive experience at the Treasury, it has been speculated that Ms Atkins has been appointed to the role in order to sure up NHS finances through possible efficiency savings.
She not known to have any professional experience in health or social care.
A grave risk.
In the letter, Ms Cullen writes: “The RCN has been unambiguous in our call for a long-term and sustainable approach to securing the future of the nursing workforce. This can only happen with real investment and support for the current workforce.”
“You will know already that the performance of the NHS is a serious concern to its own workforce, to government and to the public.
“A record 7.7 million people are waiting for elective care, emergency department performance has deteriorated, and those waiting for tests or to begin treatment are incurring dangerous delays – all impacted by the shortage of registered nurses.”
The RCN warns that the over 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies across the NHS in England poses a “grave risk that the health secretary must not accept”.
Ms Cullen also mentions the value of our international nursing colleagues and the contribution they make to health and care services in the UK: “The RCN is currently supporting a number of internationally educated nurses who arrived in the UK subject to illegal fees and excessive repayment clauses, which we find unacceptable. It is crucial your department stamps out these practices.”