This site is intended for health professionals only

Safer care and nurse pay must be ‘central’ to election debate

Safer care and nurse pay must be ‘central’ to election debate
Credit: RCN

Nurse pay and patient safety must be ‘central’ to the election debate over the coming weeks, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has urged.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Professor Pat Cullen said nursing staff across the country would be seeking ‘firm commitments’ from all candidates and parties.

Her comments follow an announcement from prime minister Rishi Sunak last night that a UK general election will be held on 4 July.

‘An early plea from nursing staff: don’t make the NHS a political football but don’t think you can get by on just platitudes either,’ said Professor Cullen.

‘Nursing staff are looking for firm commitments from all candidates and all parties – things have got to change.’

Investment into health and care services ‘is the number one priority for voters’, she noted.

And for nurses, patient safety and ‘fairer treatment’ of staff are vital.

‘Patients need safer care; staff need fairer treatment, starting with their pay – these issues must be central to the election debate in the coming weeks,’ said Professor Cullen.

Thousands of nursing staff ‘will welcome discussion and expect clear answers and plans’ from all parties in the coming weeks, she added.

‘In the almost five years since the last election, a global pandemic and repeated NHS and social care crises have exposed the frailties in our most important services,’ she said.

‘Politicians must show they have the answers to widespread health and care workforce shortages and poor population health.’

Meanwhile, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health William Roberts, said news of a general election came ‘at a critical time for the health of the nation’.

‘Health inequalities have widened over the last decade, more people than ever are leaving the workforce due to ill health, and our health and social care system is under immense pressure,’ he said.

‘As a result, lives are continuing to be cut short and millions of people are locked out of opportunity.’

Mr Roberts added: ‘An unwavering focus on prevention needs to be at the centre of the next government’s agenda, with health as the thread that runs through all policies.

‘Fairer and more equal nations are healthier nations. Focussing on those facing the greatest inequalities will bring the greatest benefits.’

At the start of the year, Nursing in Practice launched its GPN Manifesto for 2024 – highlighting the key changes the profession wants to see.


The 10 points of the manifesto



The government should ensure general practice nurses have the same pay, terms and conditions as their secondary care colleagues.



The NHS, practices, universities and other stakeholders need to change the narrative, to encourage more nurses to choose general practice.



Practices, PCNs, the NHS and government should do more to promote the health of our less well-off families.



Practices and PCNs need to free up time for GPNs to empower patients to manage their long-term conditions, including diabetes, asthma and COPD.



NHS England, PCNs, and GP practices should ensure GPNs have the time and resources to carry out their crucial role in public health promotion and disease prevention.



GPN employers, PCNs and nursing bodies need to support nurses with their own health and care, so they can care for others.



All nurses should be given the time for professional development to progress their careers. NHS England, PCNs and practices should encourage and support the GPN and ANP roles to grow in general practice.



It is important for general practice nurses to consider parity of esteem – valuing the patients’ mental health needs equally to their physical health.



GPNs need to play an important role in overturning the decline in childhood immunisation uptake.



General practice needs to continue to evolve to serve patients better, adopting approved digital platforms and applications to improve patient care and outcomes.

See how our symptom tool can help you make better sense of patient presentations
Click here to search a symptom