Health committee chair urges Jeremy Hunt to be clear on future of nurse advisers

Sarah Wollaston submitted series of questions to Department of Health on plans to scrap nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit

Conservative MP and health committee chair Sarah Wollaston has quizzed health secretary Jeremy Hunt on controversial plans to axe the Department of Health’s entire team of nurse advisers.

Sarah Wollaston. Picture: Rex

Dr Wollaston has submitted a series of written questions to the department on plans to scrap the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit.

The DH has so far refused to respond to widespread anger from unions and leading nurses about the plans, but it is believed the unit will be disbanded from September as part of wider job losses.

Emergency resolution

An emergency resolution was passed at RCN congress in Glasgow condemning the move, saying there needed to be a ‘strong, permanent and expert nursing voice at the heart of the DH’.

In questions set to be answered in parliament on 28 June, Dr Wollaston has asked:

  • Whether staff and external stakeholders had been consulted on the plans.
  • What steps will be taken to ensure ministers receive impartial nursing advice after the unit is scrapped.
  • How nurses will be consulted on DH policy in future.
  • How the DH will ensure UK nursing is effectively represented at the World Health Assembly (the decision-making body of the World Health Organization) and other international forums

The plans have been roundly criticised by leading nurses across the world, with the International Council of Nurses, which represents millions of nurses worldwide, calling the move ‘deplorable’.

The RCN said it will seek an urgent meeting with Mr Hunt following the emergency resolution.

Nurse leadership

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘There is an across the board consensus that nurse leadership at the highest levels is the key to driving the development of best practice and the best possible health policy. Government must not be exempt from that. 

‘It is absolutely vital that talented, experienced and knowledgeable nursing professionals are involved in creating health policy, right at the heart of government.'

A DH spokesperson insisted the nursing voice was heard 'loud and clear' in policymaking.




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