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RCN general secretary calls for action on staffing

In her first address as RCN chief executive and general secretary, Janet Davies warned against not learning the lessons of history and the need to invest in nursing
Janet Davies

RCN general secretary Janet Davies has warned politicians and those running the health service not to attack the nursing workforce to meet the NHS funding gap.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies address congress. Picture: John Houlihan

Addressing Congress today, in the 100th anniversary year of the RCN, she said it was vital to learn the lessons of history to keep standards and quality of care high for patients.

'Shortsighted'

Ms Davies said it was shortsighted to cut nursing numbers, to spend money on agencies rather than investing in staff, and to remove bursaries from nursing students.

‘You know there aren’t enough nurses,’ she said. ‘You know that’s a risk for patient care and for the staff who are left with an impossibly high workload.

‘So what do you do? Take away the money that funds their training?

‘You couldn’t make

RCN general secretary Janet Davies has warned politicians and those running the health service not to attack the nursing workforce to meet the NHS funding gap.


RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies address congress. Picture: John Houlihan

Addressing Congress today, in the 100th anniversary year of the RCN, she said it was vital to learn the lessons of history to keep standards and quality of care high for patients.

'Shortsighted'

Ms Davies said it was shortsighted to cut nursing numbers, to spend money on agencies rather than investing in staff, and to remove bursaries from nursing students.

‘You know there aren’t enough nurses,’ she said. ‘You know that’s a risk for patient care and for the staff who are left with an impossibly high workload.

‘So what do you do? Take away the money that funds their training?

‘You couldn’t make it up,’ she said.

Huge improvements

Ms Davies said that the RCN had driven huge improvements in the past 100 years, including getting nursing recognised as a profession, regulation of nursing training, and fighting for fair pay and working conditions for nurses.

‘We’ve worked hard for it, we’ve got more challenges ahead – and we’re not going to see our progress slide back now,’ she said.

‘Together, we are a force to be reckoned with.’

She said that progress was still being made, for example, in April, the Welsh Assembly voted to make staffing levels a legal requirement.


2016 is Janet Davies' first as general secretary. Picture: John Houlihan

More to be done

But she said much more must be done, and that it didn’t make sense to cut money spent on nurses, midwives and health care assistants, because they kept the health service going.

She said the RCN was recognised as a top employer, and that it would run the NHS very differently, including investing in clinical staff, CPD, nursing leadership and keeping the focus on patients.

‘Right across the UK, when there are budget pressures, the workforce is still one of the first places that is looked at for savings. It’s happening again now. Don’t they learn from history?’ she asked.

 

 

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