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Letter: Can Nadine Dorries MP keep her word?

I feel I must respond to the opinion piece by Nadine Dorries MP (Brexit will boost nurses’ pay).

I feel I must respond to the opinion piece by Nadine Dorries MP (Brexit will boost nurses’ pay).

The current poor wage levels for NHS nurses is solely the result of George Osborne's austerity experiment. The meltdown in terms of pay, conditions of service and patient safety in the private care sector is directly due to the slashing of local authority funding. Liverpool has suffered a 58% reduction in funding and that has directly impacted on patients in the private and third sector health services. 

In spite of what Ms Dorries claims, the Pay Review Body for nurses and midwifes limits the annual pay rise to just 1% until at least 2020. It wasn't Europe that imposed that on us as a profession.

Her arguments regarding the danger of TTIP to the NHS pale into insignificance when the issues of the Trade Union Reform Bill, NHS Reform Act and the removal of the nursing bursary are taken into consideration.

In rebutting her claims, the nursing profession should reflect what her government has inflicted on the nursing workforce, and society in general:

  • the number of self-employed, part-time and zero hours contract jobs in health care, and the effect on marginalised people who use those services
  • the housing crisis in the UK, including the lack of social housing, sky-high rental prices and rogue landlords which has stressed the nursing workforce in terms of their quality of living
  • the “exceptionally high” levels of homelessness and the government's inadequate response to this, especially in the light of the huge increase of demand for the NHS with the associated care needs
  • a failure to address food poverty and the heavy reliance by millions on food banks, this issue has been identified by the RCN as an indicator of how poor our pay is as more nurses access food banks
  • the rising levels of poverty among marginalised groups, and the government’s failure to tackle child poverty leading to levels of absolute poverty not seen since before WW2 and the creation of the welfare state.

It is not just internal criticism that this government has had heaped on them. The UN is saying that the government has forced through austerity measures without bothering to think or care how they would affect the poor, the disabled and the vulnerable – and that in doing so, they have flouted agreed international standards. This government had already been warned once by the UN in 2012 regarding this – but chose to ignore it.

You promise us that you will push the new government to spend 'as much as possible' of the £350m a week contribution on the NHS. That will be problematic for you as that claim as been well rubbished over the last few months.

And finally, there is the issue of an international health care workforce. The Brexit vote appears to have both damaged the confidence of our overseas staff within the UK, and there is evidence that it is deterring potential staff viewing the UK as place to come to and live and work.

You have made bold promises Nadine, now lets’ see if you and your government can keep them.

Mike Travis, RCN activist

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