RCN boss delivers stark warning to the new Prime Minister

Staff and patients are ‘desperate for a signal things will improve’.

Matt Bodell
26 July 2019
Dame Donna Kinnair Writing Letter

The RCN warns a “severe” deficit of nurses is compromising patient care and safety.

The head of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has written to the new Prime Minister to ward that failing to address several key nursing issues could have serious consequences.


Borris Johnson was appointed as Prime Minister on Wednesday. During his first speak and subsequent statement to parliament on Thursday, he offered several promises to health and social care which include additional funding and resources.

In the letter to Mr Johnson, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, warns a “severe” deficit of nurses is causing “consistently unsafe nurse staffing levels which compromise patient care and safety, leading to unacceptable risk levels for nursing staff and the wider public”

The letter calls for the new PM to provide assurances over; accountability for safe staffing, additional funding for both pre and post-registration study, an immigration system that is “fit for purpose” and reassurances for nursing and healthcare staff over Brexit.

‘Desperate for a signal things will improve’.

Kinnair warns that failing to address these major concerns could have significant consequences throughout health and social care.


She closes the letter by calling for a meeting with the new PM to address the issues.

Dame Donna Kinnair said: “Never in recent history has a prime minister entered office with pressure so great in health and care services.

“A growing number of jobs left unfilled has contributed to a crisis in social care, huge pressure on accident and emergency departments, a health care desert in rural areas and longer waiting lists across the board, from hospitals to GP appointments. It is patients and nursing staff who have to cope with the consequences of these problems. They will be desperate for a signal that things will improve.

“The new prime minister has much to gain in tackling these issues with urgency. Real investment in nurse education and a new legal duty to deliver safe and effective staffing across health and care settings would pay dividends in terms of improved health outcomes from cancer to childhood obesity, and ultimately a more productive economy.”