Petition to save Department of Health nurse advisers
Plans to axe nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit condemned by leading nurses
Pressure is mounting on the Department of Health to reconsider its controversial plan to axe its team of nurse advisers.
Parliamentary health select committee chair Sarah Wollaston is the latest leading figure to ask for clarity on the future of the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit.
The DH has refused to elaborate on the plans, believed to be part of wider job losses to cut the department's running costs by 30% in the next five years.
Nurses at RCN congress passed an emergency resolution condemning the proposals, while more than 1,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the unit to be saved.
In a series of questions in parliament, conservative MP Dr Wollaston asked health secretary Jeremy Hunt whether staff had been consulted on the plans. She also enquired about what steps were being taken to ensure ministers receive impartial nursing advice, and how nurses would be consulted on DH policy in future.
The plans have been criticised by leading nurses around the world. The International Council of Nurses, which represents millions of nurses worldwide, called the move ‘deplorable’.
The RCN is now seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Hunt following the emergency resolution.
RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘It is vital that talented, experienced and knowledgeable nursing professionals are involved in creating health policy, right at the heart of government.'
The online petition was set up by registered nurse and journalist Deborah Glover, who was awarded an MBE for services to nursing in the 2016 new year's honours.
She said: ‘Nursing is going through a time of great change – nursing associates, changes to student bursaries and nurses being trained to fill in for junior doctors – so a nursing voice at the heart of government is needed now more than ever.’
A DH spokesperson insisted the nursing voice was heard 'loud and clear' in policymaking.