Editorial

Our health secretary remains, but his priorities must change

The new government’s mandate may be weak, but Jeremy Hunt has a lot to get on with, from the pay cap to workforce planning and the right to remain for EU nursing staff, writes editor Graham Scott.

The new government’s mandate may be weak, but Jeremy Hunt has a lot to get on with, from the pay cap to workforce planning and the right to remain for EU nursing staff, writes editor Graham Scott.

So welcome back, Jeremy Hunt. Many congratulations on your re-appointment, even if the election did not pan out as you had hoped. Your mandate is weak, but your leader is keen to ‘get on with the job’, so here’s what nurses would like you to prioritise over the next 12 months.

Workforce planning. Could we have some, please? Not a random collection of new roles and entry gates, but a coherent strategy that has half a chance of producing a properly prepared workforce in sufficient numbers to deliver patient care safely.

No ‘magic nurse tree’

Pay. Can you afford to pay nurses fairly? Can you afford not to? There may be no ‘magic money tree’, but there’s no ‘magic nurse tree’ either. If nursing students are to start racking up huge debts, a starting salary of £22,128 and limited opportunities for career progression will not wash.

Social care. Let’s celebrate our longevity and stop blaming the ageing population for the rising costs. Investment in the integration of health and social care services will pay off by producing better outcomes and greater efficiency. Greater support for nursing and residential care homes would not go amiss, either.

Brexit. Do the decent thing and guarantee the right to remain of nursing staff from European Union countries. While you’re at it, don’t forget the huge numbers of support staff who hold our hospitals and care homes together.

Healthcare assistants. Regulate them. Properly. Now.


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