NHS workforce 'scarcely mentioned' in Queen's Speech, says RCN

College disappointed with government's legislative programme.
Queen's Speech

The RCN has criticised the lack of focus on the NHS in the Queen’s Speech at the state opening of parliament today, and says the cap on nurse pay should have been scrapped.

The Queen delivers her speech at parliament, with Prince Charles at her side.
Picture: Getty

The speech, setting out the government’s legislative programme for the next two years, said the economy would be strengthened so that it supports the creation of jobs and generates the tax revenues needed to invest in the NHS, schools and other public services.

It also discussed reforming mental health legislation and ensuring that mental health is prioritised by the NHS in England.

'Nothing will change'

RCN chief executive Janet Davies said: ‘Theresa May had an opportunity to show that she had listened to public concern over the future of the NHS.

‘By scarcely mentioning its patients and workforce today, the government made clear that nothing will change.

‘Nursing staff and others across the NHS hoped to hear a new tone. Ms May's below-inflation cap on their pay does nothing to help fill the 40,000 vacant nurse jobs in England. It should have been scrapped today.

'Hospitals and community services are already short of the nursing staff needed to provide safe care. Nurses are being driven out by poor pay and the unprecedented strain. Health and care services must fast become a priority for this government.’

Pay rise 'long overdue'

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis criticised the lack of focus on pay and said ministers were living in a 'parallel universe.'

He said: 'Nurses, teaching assistants, council workers, police support staff and other public sector employees should be rewarded for their hard work with a long overdue wage rise.

'The pay cap has left them extremely hard-up and must go.'

Domestic abuse

There will be a consultation to ‘improve work on social care’ and a domestic violence and abuse bill for England and Wales to protect victims, which is expected to establish a domestic violence and abuse commissioner.

The speech also set out proposed legislation relating to Brexit, including converting EU law to UK law and establishing new national policies on immigration.

Ms Davies continued: ‘We will look closely at today's announcements on mental health and social care, but the rhetoric needs to be matched with cash.

‘These promises would have been easier to deliver if thousands of mental health nurses had been able to stay in their jobs in recent years.’

The RCN is due to launch a ‘summer of protest’ next week, calling on the government to scrap the 1% pay cap. 

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