NURSES passed a motion of no confidence in Health Secretary Lansley and his Health and Social Care Bill, with a vote of 98.75% in favour, at the RCN annual conference in Liverpool yesterday.
Five hundred delegates representing the Royal College of Nursing’s 400,000 membership voted For: 478 (98.75 per cent); Against: six (1.24 per cent); Abstentions 13.
Following the vote, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said: ‘The outcome of this motion is a reflection of many members’ passionate and honestly held concerns that the proposed reforms could destabilise the NHS.’
In the debate, David Dawes, a nurse from Manchester, said the RCN had tried to engage with government in the past, but now was time ‘to oppose’.
Zeba Arif, a mental health nurse from London, said: ‘Reform means making it better. Is this making it better? No it is not.’
Bethann Siviter, a nurse who now works in Birmingham after moving to England from the US, added: ‘If this goes forward the NHS is dying. I come from a country with private health care. Don’t go there.’
Lansley travelled to Liverpool yesterday, but instead of addressing the conference, he just met with a group of 50 nurses.
Julian Newell, an A&E nurse from Sheffield, said: ‘I think it’s a shame Andrew Lansley does not have the guts to come up and face congress as a whole.’
RCN Delegate Mandy O’Connor said: ‘He should have come to listen to the whole of Congress. In every hospital front line services are being cut. Nurses are leaving posts and posts are not being filled. Nurses are being cut everywhere.’
After the RCN vote, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband changed his party policy on the Health and Social Care Bill, saying: ‘The answer to a bad bill is not to slow it down, but to junk it.’
A Unison press officer commented to News Line: ‘We’ve been calling for the bill to be junked for many months now and we will continue to campaign against it.’
A BMA spokesman told News Line: ‘We believe that the bill should be withdrawn because it’s got significant problems’.
‘There are significant problems all the way through the bill, particularly concerning increased competition and the speed of change.
‘Our position is that the bill should be withdrawn and fundamentally changed.’
Anna Athow, BMA Council member speaking in a personal capacity, said: ‘The RCN vote is a tremendous vote and reflects the feelings of the vast majority of health service workers.
‘There is enormous anger about these so-called £20 billion efficiency savings, which are resulting in major job losses for doctors, nurses and paramedics.
‘The Tories insist that they are putting the money back into frontline care but it’s absolute nonsense.
‘The fact is that every penny they are taking out with these efficiency savings they are passing on to the private sector.
‘The main thing is that these union leaders must organise concerted action to actually get rid of the bill and to get rid of the government behind it, and not be taken in by this pause, which is just a ploy to bring the bill back with a new face.
‘The bill is about privatising the commissioning and delivery of nhs care and must be defeated.’