The Royal College of Nursing's manifesto

20 Nov 2019

Iain Donaldson was asked:


This election has come at a critical time for nursing staff, patients and their families. There are mounting pressures in the NHS and our social care services across the UK; shifts are chronically understaffed and the resources needed to provide safe and effective care aren't always available.

Can I count on you and your party to support the Royal College of Nursing's manifesto, and:

  • address workforce shortages by bringing forward legislation for safe staffing
  • invest in health and care services, including restoring the loss of EU funding across the UK
  • invest in nursing education and professional development for all nursing staff
  • improve working conditions and pay for all nursing staff
  • design the immigration system so that it benefits nursing and enables us to share knowledge and skills across the globe.

You can demonstrate to your constituents your commitment to nursing by becoming an RCN Nursing Champion. This is your opportunity to give nursing staff in your constituency a voice in parliament.

Iain Donaldson responded:

Thank you for your email and for the questions you have raised, and I will try to keep my response succinct.

My day job is in Medical Research at the University of Manchester, working alongside the staff in the three emergency departments in Manchester and so I fully appreciate how important it is to support and fund not only our nursing staff but our health and social care teams as a whole.

You have asked about restoring the loss of EU funding across the UK, and rightly so. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies Brexit has already cost the economy more than £1 billion a week which is funding that could have gone into the NHS. The Royal College of Nursing say £1 billion would train 24,000 nurses. In addition to the Government's recent spending announcement, we would raise a further penny in the pound from income tax (around £6billion a year) and use this to meet immediate priorities in social care, reverse cuts to public health, and boost spending on mental health beyond the government's current plans.

We will target extra help for nursing students, starting with bursaries for specialties where shortages are most acute such as mental health, linked to clinical placements in geographies that are under-staffed. We will fund an EU recruitment campaign and end the Government's inflexible £30,000 earnings threshold for overseas workers, which rules out many care workers.

Funding is not the only concern though when it comes to staffing in our NHS, The NHS relies on 10,000 EU doctors, 20,000 EU nurses and 14,000 clinical support staff. We've lost almost 5,000 net EU-trained nurses & midwives from the NHS in the last 2 years with many of those identifying Brexit as the trigger, whist there are currently 41,000 nursing vacancies in England. Only if we stop Brexit can we begin to reverse this trend.

We need to ensure that we have good staffing levels into the future and so the Liberal Democrats would produce a national workforce strategy, ensuring that we never again experience a shortage in the numbers of doctors, nurses and other professionals that the NHS needs. The Liberal Democrats will also put a penny in the pound on Income Tax to invest in the NHS and social care.

When it comes to immigration, we will scrap the Conservatives' Hostile Environment, replacing their fishing-net approach with targeted, intelligence-led immigration enforcement. We will take immigration powers away from the Home Office so that visa and asylum decisions are made quickly and fairly. We will restore dignity and common sense by ending indefinite detention and allowing asylum seekers to work while their cases are decided. And we will stop Brexit and save free movement.

As to the question of being a Nursing Champion, I would have thought it the role of an MP to champion all constituents and those who serve them. It goes without saying that if I am elected, I would champion nursing, nurses and all our excellent NHS staff.

If I have missed anything or you have any further questions, then please let me know.

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