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Dear Boris: What readers of Nursing Standard want from new PM

With Boris Johnson about to take office as prime minister, Nursing Standard readers have their say on nursing issues he must prioritise

With Boris Johnson about to take office as prime minister, Nursing Standard readers have their say on nursing issues he must prioritise

Picture of Boris Johnson after his election as prime minister. Nursing Standard readers have their say on nursing issues he must prioritise.
Boris Johnson reacts after his election as prime minister Picture: PA Wire

Readers of Nursing Standard have identified the nursing issues they want Boris Johnson to prioritise as new prime minister.

Asked by the journal to identify areas affecting the profession that Mr Johnson should tackle first, readers responded with a list including:

  • A meaningful pay rise Readers say a salary that reflects the knowledge and responsibility of nurses would support recruitment and retention by motivating people to stay in the profession, and help attract the next generation.
  • Safe staffing legislation The RCN is campaigning for the secretary state for health and social care to be held legally accountable for staffing levels in England.
  • Better funding for nursing students The bursary for nursing students in England was scrapped in 2016. Readers call for better financial support to help those in training and encourage recruitment of nursing students in future.

How can Boris Johnson tackle issues facing nurses?

Readers express their views on our website and social media:

‘Legal minimum staffing levels for the protection of patients and staff.’

‘Bursaries for nursing and increased pay will help nursing shortages and retention. Without a doubt!’

‘I would happily pay an extra 1 or 2p on the pound if it went specifically to the NHS. And I’m a nurse! The NHS is chronically underfunded. Fix that and maybe staffing levels will improve. For a start at least.’

‘The new prime minister should reward nurses with pay that reflects our level of knowledge and the responsibility we shoulder.’

‘(The prime minister’s stance on pay should be) Supportive. Long-term. With reward for patient-facing clinical leadership, starting with ward manager level. No one, other than a director of nursing, should earn more than a ward manager. Pay scales should be education achievement-oriented.’

Mr Johnson won the race to become prime minister after beating former health secretary Jeremy Hunt in a ballot of Conservative Party members.

Responding to his election, RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair urged Mr Johnson to champion safe staffing, tackle vacancies and wider system pressures, and invest in nurse education as a matter of priority.

She said: ‘A growing number of jobs left unfilled has contributed to a crisis in social care, huge pressure on accident and emergency departments, a healthcare desert in rural areas and longer waiting lists across the board, from hospitals to GP appointments.

‘It’s patients and nursing staff who have to cope with the consequences of these problems.’

‘They will be desperate for a signal that things will improve.’

Professor Kinnair added: ‘Real investment in nurse education and a new legal duty to deliver safe and effective staffing across health and care settings would pay dividends in terms of improved health outcomes from cancer to childhood obesity, and ultimately a more productive economy.’


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