Andrew Lansley’s short speech at the RCN Congress this week did nothing to reassure the profession of nursing that they will have a long and happy relationship with him . While we all share the drive to provide good quality care the voice of the people who are providing the care continues to be ignored. It is easy to quote figures on care improvements but not so easy to talk about the huge loss of nursing posts as people get stressed from overwork and go off sick, burnout, retire or take voluntary redundancy schemes – disguised in any way you want.
Resources ( I assume he means nurses here) must be at the front line but resources (aka nurses) are also the first ones to be hit by budget cuts, lack of or just poor quality equipment, and threatened with their jobs if they do not hit targets. While he is eager to quote figures on cost improvements he fails to tell us the costs that this leads to in the people trying to meet those targets. Nursing leadership he says will be able to address all these issues but leaders are not always managers and managers are not always leaders. We need to make this very clear. Giving nurses the title of leaders does not give them the power to do anything about it. Leadership does not obtain more staff or equipment, meet targets or reduce jobs – this is politics and there is a deliberate lack of politics in the nursing profession. Imagine if nurses were given the power to make changes in their workplace and how different would our NHS be if we were all a little bit more political?
While most nurses go about their everyday business trying to ignore the pressures of politicians they are also ignoring the threat of extinction as they are quickly being replaced with unqualified staff, volunteers and even machines. When the last few nurses are still standing perhaps the politicians will begin to listen and give them the power to make the changes needed to keep our NHS alive.