Yesterday both the Royal College of Nurses and the Royal College of Midwives joined with many other NHS staff, including Doctors and Managers, in stating their outright opposition to the governments plans for the Health Service in England.
Peter Carter, general secretary of the RCN, which represents 410,000 nurses, midwives, support workers and students, said:
The consequences of the bill may be entirely different from the principles which were originally set out
and Cathy Warwick, of the RCM, said:
The government has failed to present sufficient evidence that its proposals are necessary. They have failed to present evidence that the upheaval will result in an improvement in services to the people of England
According to BBC News:
Both unions also expressed concerns that the changes were compromising the ability of the NHS to make the £20bn of savings it has been asked to make by 2015
So did Lansley take on board the concerns of these health care professionals with years of experience at the sharp end of medicine? No, he and any other Conservative MP the media got hold of spent the day saying that Nurses and Midwives didn’t really mind the changes, they were just selfishly blocking these vital reforms to protect their pensions.
So lets get this straight. We’re supposed to buy the line that Nurses and Midwives don’t care about their patients and protecting the services they have devoted their careers to. The government, however, despite their ideological drive to roll back public services and the fact that some of them have close personal links to the private companies that will most benefit from these changes are in fact soley concerned with patient welfare. Which bright spark in the Comms department came up with that line?
The NHS is no stranger to change. Governments of both colours have constantly tweaked the funding arrangements, targets and priorities and staff take the changes on board, negotiate with the government about any problems they come across and then just get on with it. This is exactly what everyone in the NHS has been trying to do for the last 18 months. Clinical and managerial staff, even the ones who know they will likely be made redundant at the end of it, have been desperately trying to make these changes work all while continuing to run hospitals and GP surgeries as if it’s business as usual. The difference this time is that the Government is so arrogant that when staff raise real issues that will affect patient care their response is to call those staff selfish and carry on regardless.
There are undeniably still things about the NHS that need to be changed and improved but when you have to decide how to do it you should listen to the people who have a vested interest in making it succeed not those who will benefit from seeing it fail.