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Nurses write to Tory leadership candidates demanding answers on key nursing issues

The letter calls on the leadership hopefuls to clarify their positions on safe staffing, pay and tuition fees.



Downing Street SW1

The letter calls on the leadership hopefuls to clarify their positions on key nursing issues.

A group of Royal College of Nursing activists have written an open letter to Borris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Sajid Javid.

The letter calls on the leadership hopefuls to clarify their positions on several key nursing issues; safe staffing, pay, tuition fees and the prolonged “impasse” currently experienced by nurses in Northern Ireland.


It was penned by thirteen prominent nursing activists including two current members of the RCNs’ governing Council and a past Deputy President.

A new Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister is due to be announced in the week commencing 22 July.

It reads;  “On behalf of nursing staff across the UK we should be grateful if each of you would provide your answers to the following questions. Please note that your answers, and indeed your lack of answers will be shared with the 435,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing, our families, friends and professional partners.

1. Scotland and Wales have introduced legislation to ensure that there will be safe nursing staff levels in hospital wards and community settings for both physical and mental health care. If you become Prime Minister, what will you do to ensure that safe staffing legislation is enacted across the entire UK?

2. There are over 40,000 vacancies for nursing staff across the UK. If you become Prime Minister, what will you do to ensure that these vacancies are filled with appropriately registered nursing staff?

3. Despite the 2018 pay award nursing pay has fallen significantly in real terms during your party’s time in Government. If you become Prime Minister, what will you do to ensure that all nursing staff receive a pay award that will at least reverse this significant cut in their salary since 2010?

4. Nursing staff in Northern Ireland have been adversely affected by the lack of a devolved government. If you become Prime Minister, what will you do to resolve the current impasse and ensure that they receive the pay award that they deserve?

5. With the end of the nursing bursary in England there has been a significant reduction in the number of people entering under-graduate courses. If you become Prime Minister will you restore the bursary, and if not, what will you do to ensure that there is an effective evidence-based policy for recruiting the next generation of nurses?

6. This Government has highlighted the importance of Public Health in preventing ill health. Yet in England there are further cuts in funding and it is proposed to move the funding from the NHS to Local Authority business rates. Will you reverse these policies?

7. If you become Prime Minister will you guarantee that in any future trade deal with the US the NHS including our current system of pharmaceutical purchases will not be up for negotiation.

It is then signed by; Prof. Rod Thomson Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health. Past Deputy President Royal College of Nursing. Geoff Earl, Royal College of Nursing Council Member for Scotland. Danielle Tiplady, Royal College of Nursing activist and Registered Nurse. Zeba Arif, Royal College Of Nursing Activist and Former Chair of the Forensic Nursing Forum. Mr. Tom Bolger, Former Assistant General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing. Michelle Russell, Royal College of Nursing Activist. Anthony Johnson, Royal College of Nursing Activist and Health Visitor. Paul Jebb, Royal College of Nursing Member and Registered Nurse. Denise Aine, Registered Nurse and Royal College of Nursing Activist. Maureen Dolan, Royal College of Nursing Activist. Billy Nichols, Royal College of Nursing Activist, Safety Representative and Steward. Dave Dawes, Royal College of Nursing Council Member for North West. Stuart Mckenzie, Royal College of Nursing Activist.

Health Politics

Bill calling for safer staffing legislation put before Parliament

There are now 43,671 vacant nursing posts throughout the NHS in England alone.



Maria Caulfield

The Bill will seek to “establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, nurse and member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), today brought a Bill designed “to establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

The Bill comes as nursing vacancy rates hit a record high with 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone – leaving 12% of full-time nursing posts unfilled.


In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the RCN highlights the impact the nursing staffing crisis is having on patient safety.

Scotland recently secured new legislation on safe staffing and a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

‘No one is responsible and no one is accountable’.

Ms Cauldfield said; “There is increasing evidence that the right number of qualified nurses can improve patient outcomes in terms of mortality, morbidity and quality of care and that conversely, an insufficient number of nurses can have a potentially life-threatening effect for patients.”

Presenting the primary aim of the Bill as; “to make the Government accountable for nursing levels in England, as currently no one is accountable for nursing levels in England and that is why we have such a high nursing vacancy rate.”

Before adding that the other aims of the Bill were ensuring the NHS has “a fully costed workforce strategy and nursing numbers” alongside ensuring training and development for nurses throughout their career.

Cauldfield controversially voted against scrapping the pay cap for NHS workers in 2017.

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Health Politics

Labour promises free home-care for the over 65s

People living with dementia currently face the highest costs for care.



Care worker helping with meals

The over-65s will not have to pay for help with dressing, washing and meals.

The Labour Party is promising free personal care in England for those over-65s who are most in need of it, so they will not have to pay for help with dressing, washing and meals.

Currently, only people with low levels of savings receive publicly-funded personal care and there is state help with home costs and residential assistance for those with assets below £23,250. However, people living with dementia face the highest costs for care.


They promise to introduce free personal care for all older people, providing help with daily tasks in their own homes and residential care; Free personal care will ensure people with dementia receive the same care as those with other conditions.

Labour claims the move will reduce the burden on unpaid carers and benefit the NHS by reducing delayed transfers of care from hospital and admissions to care homes and hospitals.

A million people are not getting the care they need.

At the Labour conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the move would be funded out of general taxation. Also, that cuts to care funding since 2010 had left a million people not getting the care they need and “87 people dying a day waiting for care”.

Subsidising the cost of basic tasks such as getting in and out of bed and going to the toilet will enable more people to continue to live independently in their homes, he said. ” I believe the right to dignity in retirement is a part of that right to health at any stage of life.”

Free personal care is something campaigners have long been calling for in England as Scotland has already introduced it and Wales and Northern Ireland each provide some level of universal entitlement.

In Wales the cost of home care is capped, while in Northern Ireland the over-75s get it for free; Based on Scottish figures, Labour said the move could save those currently self-funding their care almost £10,000 a year while 70,000 fewer families would be liable for “catastrophic” lifetime care costs in excess of £100,000.

Mr McDonnell also pledged to close the gap in social care funding and give local authorities extra support to provide care so services are not outsourced to private firms; The King’s Fund think tank has estimated that free personal care could cost £6bn a year in 2020-21, rising to £8bn by 2030.

The organisation said Labour’s announcement was a welcome step but “it is not the same thing as free social care, and some people would still be left facing catastrophic costs.”

Care services have been pushed to the brink.

Further support to the care workforce has been pledged to ensure that older people receive support from trained staff who have the time and skills needed to provide care; As part of the National Care Service, Labour has pledged to raise standards of care by ending the use of zero-hour contracts and ensuring that carers are paid a real living wage, including for travel time. Also, to end 15-minute care visits and improve access to training and development for care staff.

Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Social Care and Mental Health Minister, said: “Nine years of cuts to local council budgets have pushed care services to the brink. For years, the Tories have failed to bring in much-needed reform, leaving too many people and their families struggling to afford the care they need.

“Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour. Our plans for social care will address the immediate crisis in care, double the number of people receiving publicly-funded care, and stop people with dementia being treated unfairly by the care system.

“It is vital that social care is a universally-available public service which provides dignity, security and compassionate care. Our National Care Service will have these principles at its core.”

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