On Rishi Sunak’s 100th day as Prime Minister (2 February), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has delivered a petition with over 100,000 signatures to Downing Street, calling for a new pay deal for nurses.
‘Without nursing staff, there will be no NHS’ warned a letter signed by members of the college, calling on the Government to protect the nursing profession in order to maintain safe levels of patient care.
This comes as the latest NHS data reveals the extent of the pressures on the health service. In December 2022 there were 55,000 patients who waited over 12 hours in A&E while bed occupancy rates remain at 95%, well above the recommended safe level.
Patricia Marquis, RCN director for England, said: ‘Since he took office, the Prime Minister has failed to deliver on his promises to the NHS and is letting it deteriorate rapidly. Patients are not dying because nurses are striking. Nurses are striking because patients are dying.
‘Our members have a mandate to take strike action for another 100 days – and the Prime Minister would do well to see these strikes for what they are: a warning of the need for swift action.
‘The Prime Minister is letting down the nation’s health, millions of patients, and ultimately the economy. An ill and untreated population cannot work and contribute to the economic recovery that everybody wants to see.’
Today, NHS data also showed that the number of patients remaining in hospital despite being medically fit to discharge continued to rise, with current numbers reaching 13,983.
The letter, timed to coincide with Mr Sunak’s 100th day as Prime Minister, placed the blame for the troubles in the NHS on the staffing crisis currently effecting nursing, saying it was ‘all because we do not enough staff’.
‘Unfair pay is forcing too many to leave. Over 25,000 nurses left last year alone,’ continued the letter. It added: ‘Patients deserve better. They deserve safe and effective care. They deserve dignity. They should not have to fear in their lowest moments that their nurse won’t be there. On behalf of the nursing profession, I implore you to see sense. Protect nursing to protect the public.’
Nurse practitioner and RCN member Carmel O’Boyle commented: ‘In the 100 days that Rishi Sunak has been Prime Minister, I’ve treated well over a thousand patients. I’ve done dressings, analysed X-rays, given injections and shots, fished glass and dirt out of wounds after a patient has had a fall, treated infections and managed medications.
‘That’s what I’ve done for the NHS and my patients in the last 100 days in a team that is always short-staffed – what has the Prime Minister done to solve the crisis we’re in?’