Marilyn Eveleigh sends a message to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, reminding him of his party’s promises to nurses and the wider NHS.
With the dust settling and Boris retained in Number 10, those Conservative promises that lured voters will now be scrutinised. All parties made the NHS a political football.
I have made a promise of my own – to monitor the progress of the promises they made.
It starts with a £33.9 billion boost to NHS spending on the NHS Long Term Plan by 2023-24 – that’s an extra £6.78 billion per year. Fortunately, it is enshrined in law.
By April 2020, a cross-party partnership to tackle the adult social care crisis was promised. An early tick perhaps?
They pledged to provide 50,000 more nurses – including 18,500 retainers. I’m eager to witness how they will tackle recruitment, retention and early retirement as the current 43,000 nursing vacancies indicate the NHS has failed abysmally so far.
All students are promised an annual maintenance grant of £5,000 during their course, with £8,000 going to learning disabilities and mental health nursing, the most difficult to recruit to – plus help with childcare costs. Not quite a bursary U-turn, but needed.
Fifty million extra primary care appointments a year, up 15%, were promised. Plus 6,000 more GPs, over 6,000 primary care professionals such as physiotherapists, pharmacists and nurses. Sounds good, but doable?
There is a 6.5% promised pay rise for a million NHS staff including nurses, midwives and cleaners. Very attractive: but experience tells me this could become dramatically eroded.
There’s another promise to improve staff morale. Well, we can readily measure that by staff retention.
With the promise of six new hospitals, plus 20 hospital upgrades and another 78 having improved technology to detect and treat cancers earlier, the stakes to deliver are high.
The nursing workforce will be pivotal to the Conservative’s credibility. Boris promises a radical change within government departments and personnel. There needs to be – inaction, distraction and uncertainty for the past three years has taken its toll on the health of the population, and health and social care services.
My message to our new PM? Cynicism and uncertainty influenced voters: so keep your promises. Keep your credibility. Keep the nursing workforce onside.