Nurses 'furious' as health minister fails to turn up at national conference

Nurses attending a national conference were left disappointed after Conservative Party member Dan Poulter pulls out of London Nurse Show

Nurses at a national conference were left disappointed yesterday after Conservative Party member Dan Poulter reneged on a promise to attend.

Representatives from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party took to the stage to address delegates at the London Nurse Show, a two-day event at Alexandra Palace in London.

But, despite having accepted an invitation to attend, Dr Poulter pulled out at the last minute.

Conference chair Ian Peate, professor of nursing and head of school at the School of Health Studies in Gibraltar, said: ‘The Tories are making it very clear what they think about nurses and nursing.

'They are snubbing the backbone of the NHS. This is the party that has failed to listen to anything nurses have to say, and that has been proved by them failing to turn up today.'

Responding to the comments, a Conservative spokesperson said: 'Unfortunately, Dr Poulter isn't able to attend every event.'

Last week, Dr Poulter addressed nurses at a pre-election hustings at the RCN.

Labour Party member Andy Burnham, Liberal Democrat member Paul Burstow and Green Party health spokesperson Jillian Creasy attended the event.

Addressing delegates, Mr Burnham told nurses that a Labour government would commit to remodelling the NHS to ensure social care was a fully integrated part of the service.

He said: ‘If I become health secretary, I expect to find a shattered and demoralised workforce in an NHS that is truly on the brink.

‘But the party that created the NHS is now ready to reset the NHS for the 21st Century. It is time to bring social care into the NHS – we want an NHS that supports people with dementia and autism as well as it supports those with cancer.’

He pledged to immediately repeal the Health and Social Care Act, reinstate the NHS Pay Review Body and recruit 20,000 more nurses if Labour come to power. He promised to stop the practice of downbanding nurses and pledged to keep unsocial hours payments. However, he stopped short of saying how Labour would fund an NHS in which routine services would be available 7 days a week.

Mr Burstow said his party was the only one to commit to funding the £8 billion shortfall facing the NHS, adding that the Liberal Democrats would focus on mental health and social care, which had both been the ‘Cinderellas’ of our health and care system.

Green Party health spokesperson Jillian Creasy told the conference that her party would invest ‘substantial’ funds into social care for older people and would take steps to address the serious problems caused by alcohol in the UK.


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