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Jeremy Hunt urged to clarify future of government nurse advisers

Widespread concern the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit will be axed
Jeremy Hunt

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been urged to make it clear whether the Department of Health will axe its entire team of nurse advisers.

The DH has so far refused to answer widespread concerns the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit, which helps shape policy, will be scrapped in September.

It is thought the move could be part of plans to slash the department’s running costs by 30% over the next five years, including the loss of 700 jobs.

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams, who claims plans were finalised some weeks ago, told Nursing Standard she will write to Mr Hunt to clarify if the unit has a future.

The unit has been the sole voice of the nursing profession within the department since the office of the chief nurse was transferred to NHS England and that of the deputy chief nurse moved

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been urged to make it clear whether the Department of Health will axe its entire team of nurse advisers.

The DH has so far refused to answer widespread concerns the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit, which helps shape policy, will be scrapped in September.

It is thought the move could be part of plans to slash the department’s running costs by 30% over the next five years, including the loss of 700 jobs.

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams, who claims plans were finalised some weeks ago, told Nursing Standard she will write to Mr Hunt to clarify if the unit has a future.

The unit has been the sole voice of the nursing profession within the department since the office of the chief nurse was transferred to NHS England and that of the deputy chief nurse moved to Public Health England in 2013.

Ms Adams told Nursing Standard: ‘There have been nurse advisers at the DH for as long as I can remember and the idea that from September this will no longer be the case is, quite frankly, ludicrous.’

The RCN called the prospect ‘extremely worrying’, while Labour peer Lord Hunt of Kings Health has called a question to ministers calling on the DH to clarify its position.

Now the NHS Alliance is the latest organisation to criticise the move, urging the public to write to their local MP in protest.

Alliance co-chair Heather Henry said: ‘The need for senior nursing, midwifery, and allied health professionals leadership has never been more acute.’

RCN general secretary Janet Davis said: ‘It’s absolutely vital that talented, experienced and knowledgeable nursing professionals are involved in creating health policy, right at the heart of Government.’

A DH spokesperson declined to comment on whether the policy unit was at risk, but insisted the nursing voice was heard ‘loud and clear’ in policy making.

 

 

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