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Pay and safe staffing top UK nurses' election wish list

Pre-election survey of voting intentions reveals a pay rise, and safe staff numbers in the NHS are the issues nurses want the next government to tackle

The next government must provide safe nurse staffing in the NHS, say almost half the respondents to Nursing Standard’s exclusive general election 2015 survey. 

A total of 2,805 nurses were asked about their voting intentions and what they want the next government to prioritise for the profession. 

Safe staffing was the most important issue to 45.6 per cent of respondents, while 41.9 per cent wanted to see a decent pay rise top the political agenda. 

The survey revealed 1,074 nurses (39.7 per cent of respondents) intended to vote Labour and 384 (14.2 per cent) said they will vote Conservative. Nearly a quarter remain undecided, while the Liberal Democrats, who got 3.7 per cent of the sample's vote, lagged behind UKIP, which got 6.1 per cent, and the Green Party, which accounted for 6 per cent. 

The RCN also called on the next government to prioritise safe nurse staffing in all settings. RCN parliamentary affairs manager Will Hardy said: ‘It is good to see safe staffing featuring so high in the Nursing Standard survey. 

‘It is closely aligned to patient care and it is vital for politicians to see that. Nurses want to be able to provide safe care for their patients.’

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: ‘The one thing we urge all politicians to do is not take the vote of any nurses for granted, and if you say you are going to do something, make sure you do it,’ she added. 

Our poll shows that 40.3 per cent of nurses intend to change their party choice from how they voted in 2010.

The combined share of the vote for the coalition parties – just 17.9 per cent – could be a reflection of the ‘big changes’ in the NHS in the past five years, including the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act in England and the pay dispute, according to Mr Hardy.  

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said it is the only party with a ‘credible road map’ for safeguarding the NHS, including increasing its funding by £8 billion in five years. 

Both Labour and UKIP have pledged an extra 20,000 nurses for the health service, with the former promising an additional 10,000 training places. The Conservatives say they would increase spending on the health service in real terms every year.

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