Thank you to the Royal College of Nursing, South East London branches for inviting me to come and speak and engage with local nurses at their event earlier today.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear the views of those who work on the front line of our NHS.
One nurse told me that at times people expect her to be a robot. She said everyone seems so fixated on the statistics and meeting targets that they forget that nurses are just humans and individual patient safety should always be their primary concern.
I also got a chance to hear their views on Jeremy Hunt’s new proposal on apprenticeships for nurses, which he says complements the nursing associate role announced a year ago. Concerns were raised about whether nurses would have to take responsibility for trainees; adding to already exasperated work load. They asked, would it put people off getting a degree? Is this just nursing on the cheap? And most importantly, could this jeopardise patient safety? These are all questions myself and colleagues will push to get answers to in parliament.
We discussed the scrapping of bursaries, which like myself, a lot people were against. Many nurses predicted the application rate would plummet which would further the problems. We also spoke about the pressure on Lewisham hospital due to our rising population.
Towards the end of my time at the event, someone asked what Labour could do for the NHS. There is no quick fix or one solution, but we are the party of the NHS and we listen to the people who live it. Amongst many things, we would ease pressure on the NHS by making sure local councils have the right resources and funding. It’s clear that not enough money is being put into the NHS, that’s something everyone in the room could unanimously agree on.
There is so much rhetoric in Parliament but not a lot of headway. If the Government continues to pile on the pressure when front line staff are already over-worked mistakes will be made. The NHS is in the worst state it has ever been in and we need to be listening to the people who live it, their voices need to be heard. I hope some of the nurses I met today were encouraged to engage in politics, we need far more people like them involved to help tackle this crisis.