Dear party leaders: you’ll need to look after nurses if you want their votes

RCN issues manifesto wish list to political parties as 2019 general election looms

RCN issues manifesto wish list to political parties as 2019 general election looms

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair  Picture: Justine Diamond

Nurses’ pay and working conditions must be improved, the RCN has told party leaders campaigning ahead of December's general election.

In a letter to the politicians, RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair, outlined five nursing issues the college wants the next government to tackle.

These are:

  • The nursing workforce shortage, which has topped 40,000 in England for several years now.  
  • Investment in health and social care services, making sure any shortfall in funding created by leaving the European Union (EU) is made up in full by the UK government.   
  • Financial support for nursing students.
  • The development of a post-Brexit immigration system that is easy for foreign nurses to navigate and meets the needs of employers.
  • Better pay and working conditions for nursing staff, ensuring working environments are safe. 

Call to end NHS surcharge levied on nurses from outside the EU

In addition, Professor Kinnair raised the vexed question of the health surcharge levied on nurses who have come to the UK from outside the EU and need to use the NHS themselves. Under the current system, they are required to pay £400 a year and the same amount for dependents.

Professor Kinnair wrote: ‘It is an unacceptable price to pay – especially for those who are working in our health and care services, and who already pay national insurance and income tax, as well as directly contributing to our health and care services through their work.’

The letter has been sent to the Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Green Party leaders Jonathan Bartley and Siân Berry and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.

In practice, the college's demands are limited in scope, because health and social care policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a devolved issue and not in the gift of the UK government. 

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