Anne Kennedy is a children’s nurse and Yorkshire campaigner with the Royal College of Nursing.
I have been a nurse for 45 years. I started in 1970 and am 65 now. But I’ll go on as long as I can doing what I do because I am passionate about children’s nursing.
My first thought when the snap election was announced was ‘what’s going to happen to the NHS?’.
We find ourselves in an unexpected general election but there is no better time to hold politicians to account for the impact of their decisions.
Nursing staff are beyond disappointed by six years of real-term pay cuts. Over the same period, pressure in hospital and community nursing reached unprecedented levels and they are working harder than ever.
The one per cent pay cap for nursing staff is fuelling a recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS that is as damaging for patient care as it is for the nurses themselves. We will use the collective voice of UK nursing to remind all parties of that before polling day.
Nurses are not taking this lightly. The wellbeing of patients is top priority of every nurse and healthcare assistant. But too many are struggling to make ends meet and they should not have to cover the NHS deficit from their own pay packet.
Nurses are becoming more and more vocal. They are becoming angry, and I haven’t seen this for a long time. After seven years of pay restraints, they are earning the same as what they were earning eight or nine years ago. I don’t think that’s the same for MPs. I’d love to ask Jeremy Hunt to show us his payslip.
I work alongside passionate nurses who care about the care that they give to patients. It’s not just about the money they take home, it’s about what nursing means to them. They are hardworking, dedicated and experienced. We need them to be able to provide good quality care to patients. And they are getting stressed because the pressures that they are under mean they are not able to give that safe and effective care.
The first thing I would be saying to the General Election candidates hoping to win my vote is ‘help us do our job and let us provide safe and effective care’. Because that’s what we do it for. And when we are unable to do that, it lowers morale.
Secondly, we want fair pay. Scrap the caps. I want to know who is going to end the pay restraints that we have experienced. And finally, start to invest in the NHS and health and social care in general.
Jeremy Hunt can win us around easily if he meets those standards, but I haven’t heard him say much to that effect.
We want to see what all the parties are going to say about the right for EU nurses to remain.
I can’t imagine what will happen if we lose our EU nurses. Jeremy Hunt isn’t giving us that reassurance.
I am aware that the Labour party have pledged to end the pay restraints and when they publish their manifesto, of course that will affect me. Any politician or party that says they are going to end the pay restraints is going to affect how I am going to think about voting.
I represent a lot of nurses in Leeds and Yorkshire. I think Yorkshire’s MPs need to think carefully about the numbers of nurses in their constituencies, certainly in the marginal constituencies.
I live in a marginal constituency where the sitting MP has a majority of 400. If I can get to every nurse in the constituency, I will say ‘read the manifestos’. And I will say ‘where the manifestos match up with what we, as nurses, want, think about that’.