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Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt urged to urgently re-examine nursing issues

Political overhaul leads to new hope for nurses
Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt

Nursing leaders have urged new prime minister Theresa May to urgently re-examine key issues affecting the profession.

Prime minister Theresa May and health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Credit: PA Images

Mrs May took office on July 13, and in a surprise move kept Jeremy Hunt on as health secretary amid a major cabinet reshuffle.

The RCN called on Ms May and Mr Hunt to take a fresh look at issues including safe staffing and proposals to scrap bursaries for nursing and midwifery students.

EU nationals

One cause of concern for nurses will be Ms May’s refusal earlier this month to confirm whether EU nationals living in the UK – including 33,000 nurses – will be able to remain following Brexit.

As home secretary, she also refused to add nurses to the government’s shortage occupation list, before relenting in October 2015 amid pressure from unions and

Nursing leaders have urged new prime minister Theresa May to urgently re-examine key issues affecting the profession.

Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt
Prime minister Theresa May and health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Credit: PA Images

Mrs May took office on July 13, and in a surprise move kept Jeremy Hunt on as health secretary amid a major cabinet reshuffle.

The RCN called on Ms May and Mr Hunt to take a fresh look at issues including safe staffing and proposals to scrap bursaries for nursing and midwifery students.

EU nationals

One cause of concern for nurses will be Ms May’s refusal earlier this month to confirm whether EU nationals living in the UK – including 33,000 nurses – will be able to remain following Brexit.

As home secretary, she also refused to add nurses to the government’s shortage occupation list, before relenting in October 2015 amid pressure from unions and NHS employers.

Her voting record on health issues include:

  • Voted against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS.
  • Voted for reforming the NHS so GPs buy services on behalf of their patients.
  • Voted against introducing foundation hospitals.
  • Voted against smoking bans.
  • Voted against terminally ill people being given assistance to end their lives.

RCN chief executive Janet Davies said: ‘A new prime minister with a refreshed political agenda is an opportunity for all parties to work together to tackle the challenges facing the health service.

‘Issues like safe staffing and the proposed changes to student funding need urgent re-examining.’

Help for disadvantaged

In her first speech as prime minister, Ms May pledged to help society’s most disadvantaged, admitting there was not enough help for people with mental health problems.

Former nurse advisor for mental health and forensic psychiatry at the Department of Health Malcolm Rae said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Ms May’s appointment.

‘I am very encouraged by the tenet of her opening remarks and hope we could respond to her positive mention of mental health by holding her to account in a constructive way,’ he said.

RCN professional lead for mental health nursing Ian Hulatt also welcomed Ms May’s comments, and called for continued investment in mental health services.

‘It’s possible that Theresa May may be persuaded that well-funded early intervention makes good clinical and economic sense,' he added.

Mr Hunt said he was ‘thrilled’ to be saying on as health secretary.

NHS Confederation said the move meant continuity at a critical time for the health service, while Unison head of health Christina McAnea urged Mr Hunt to ensure his pro-Brexit colleagues delivered on their referendum pledge of more funding for the NHS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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