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‘Fight for our NHS’, urge unions and nurses as PM calls election

Prime minister Theresa May has called a snap general election for 8 June.
Theresa May

Prime minister Theresa May has called a general election three years before the end of the current term, prompting health unions and nurses to urge voters and politicians to focus on the state of the NHS.

Speaking outside Downing Street this morning, the prime minister said she would put a motion to the House of Commons tomorrow, calling for an election on 8 June.

We need a general election and we need it now, said Ms May, adding that the next scheduled election would otherwise come towards the end of Brexit negotiations, potentially weakening Britains position.

Golden opportunity for nursing

James Paget University Hospital transformation nurse and campaigner Joan Pons Laplana urged colleagues to fight for the NHS, following the announcement from Downing Street.

Mr Pons Laplana,

Prime minister Theresa May has called a general election three years before the end of the current term, prompting health unions and nurses to urge voters and politicians to focus on the state of the NHS.


Theresa May calls for a snap general election on 8 June. Picture: Getty Images

Speaking outside Downing Street this morning, the prime minister said she would put a motion to the House of Commons tomorrow, calling for an election on 8 June.

‘We need a general election and we need it now,’ said Ms May, adding that the next scheduled election would otherwise come towards the end of Brexit negotiations, potentially weakening Britain’s position.

‘Golden opportunity’ for nursing

James Paget University Hospital transformation nurse and campaigner Joan Pons Laplana urged colleagues to ‘fight for the NHS’, following the announcement from Downing Street.

Mr Pons Laplana, who has recently lobbied government over the rights of EU workers to remain in the UK after Brexit, said: ‘It’s a golden opportunity to make sure nursing counts and put our beloved NHS at the top of the agenda of all parties.

‘After years of underfunding, the frontline is at breaking point – now is the time to make our politicians accountable, let’s fight for our NHS.

He added it was a chance for politicians ‘to do the right thing’ and add to their manifestos a promise guaranteeing EU citizens who are living in the UK the right to stay post Brexit.

Challenge all parties

RCN general secretary Janet Davies warned that Brexit was ‘not the only issue the country faces’ and said the college would ensure NHS and social care were on the ballot paper.

Her statement has significance as the RCN is currently polling members over potential strike action following stifled pay awards under Conservative and coalition governments of the last seven years.

Ms Davies said: ‘The RCN will challenge all parties to give health and care services the funding and staff they need for safe patient care.

‘We will be consulting our members on the RCN’s manifesto and the commitments they want to see from election candidates.’

NHS central issue

Doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) called for credible policies on the NHS and to make health a central issue of the election.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said: ‘Health is always one of the most important issues for the people of this country and with the NHS at breaking point, having been put through one of the worst winters on record, it must be a central issue in the upcoming election.

‘The NHS must not be pushed to the margins in the focus on Brexit – our health and social care systems can no longer cope without urgent action.

‘We call on politicians of all parties not to duck this crisis any longer, and instead to outline credible and sustainable plans that will safeguard the future of the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.’

Cash boost needed

Unite’s national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said political parties would have ‘six weeks of campaigning to answer the question of what they will do to avert the funding crisis facing the NHS’ between now and 2022.

He said: ‘More of the same will not cut it and the electorate need to be told that without a significant cash boost, services will decline and close.’

‘At Unite, we will be reminding candidates in England how damaging the cuts have been to community nursing – particularly health visiting and school nursing.

‘We will also quiz them on their knowledge of sustainability and transformation plans.’

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘As the UK prepares to leave the EU, the general election must be about the future of the NHS and other public services that have suffered huge spending cuts over the past seven years.’

Invest in services

Royal College of Midwives director for policy, employment relations and communications Jon Skewes said: “We want to see the next government invest in the NHS, invest in maternity services and invest in the welfare and pay of NHS staff.’

Ms May said the election was needed because of the varying views in Westminster over how to handle Brexit negotiations.

She said Labour had threatened to vote against the final deal with the European Union, the Liberal Democrats have said they will slow the process in parliament, the SNP have said they will vote against it and members of the House of Lords had vowed to fight it.

While the prime minister was clear the overarching issue for her was Brexit, Labour has already signalled it will campaign on schools and the NHS.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘I welcome the prime minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.

‘Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.’


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