‘Follow the example of 5 nurse MPs,’ urges life peer

A nurse peer has welcomed the presence of five professional colleagues in the House of Commons as she prepares to make her long-awaited return to the House of Lords.
Baroness Emerton

A nurse peer has urged more healthcare staff to get involved in politics as five colleagues take up seats in the House of Commons.

Baroness Emerton, outside the House of Lords, is ‘thrilled’ by the number of nurses elected in to parliament. Picture: Charles Milligan

Baroness Emerton said she was ‘delighted and thrilled’ following the election of two Labour MPs, who are nurses, and the re-election of three others in last week's general election.

She was speaking ahead of her swearing in today, which will mark the end of an illness-related, year-long leave of absence.


Baroness Emerton said: ‘The more nurses we get into politics, or at least being politically active, the better, and I hope many others will follow their example.

‘It’s especially important to have them in the House of Commons because that is where all the important legislation relevant to them starts.

‘They need to understand the influence they can have.'

Baroness Emerton was made a life peer in 1997 having been chief nursing officer of South East Thames Regional Health Authority in the 1980s.

Resolve matter quickly

While chair of the former Brighton Health Care NHS Trust, she was also involved in the creation of nursing degrees at universities, transferring education away from schools of nursing.

The fact parliament is currently hung with no party commanding a majority means the state opening by the Queen, due to take place next week, could be delayed.

Baroness Emerton expects ‘the matter to be resolved quickly’ and is looking forward to get back to her important work – especially the advancement of multi-professional working.

She added: ‘I started lobbying for it back in 2000 and while it is good to see that work bearing fruit, nationally we’ve not gotten very far at all.

Resistant to sharing disciplines

‘I think that is because health professionals tend to give a certain amount of protection to their own spheres and are resistant to sharing disciplines.

‘But actually it is very cost-effective for doctors and nurses to train together as well as giving them a greater understanding of each other’s work.’

She is looking forward to re-joining fellow nurse peers Lord MacKenzie, Baroness Cox, Baroness Cumberlege and Baroness Watkins.

One of the first things she hopes to tackle is the current 1% cap on NHS staff pay rises, which has been in place since 2010.

She added: ‘Nurses have suffered stringent pay restraint for long enough and I think the government is finally receiving that message.’

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