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27E. NHS reforms

Resolution submitted by the RCN Greater Liverpool and Knowsley Branch

That this meeting of the RCN Congress, in the light of Anne Milton's Congress address, has no confidence in Andrew Lansley's management of this Coalition Government's NHS reforms

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Progress report

Submitted by: RCN Greater Liverpool and Knowsley Branch
Council lead and committee assigned: RCN Council
Committee decision: Existing work addresses this issue
Members involved: Through the Frontline First campaign

Final summary update at May 2012

At the time of Congress 2011, the Government initiated a legislative ‘pause’ to allow reflection and feedback on the NHS reforms proposed within the Health and Social Care Bill.

As part of this process, the Government also formed the NHS Future Forum. The RCN engaged with the Forum submitting a view on how to achieve necessary changes to the Bill, and the RCN hosted a number of nursing specific Future Forum events.

The RCN briefed members of both Houses of Parliament on concerns with the Bill at every opportunity, with written submissions, face-to-face meetings, policy seminars and high-profile events at political party conferences.

The RCN proposed several specific amendments to the legislation which resulted in some changes, including ensuring nurses are appointed at every level of the new commissioning framework; stopping the ability of Clinical Commissioning Groups to receive bonuses and removing the wording proposing a minimum tariff in the NHS.

However, the RCN was not satisfied that the legislation was amended sufficiently to avoid destabilising the NHS and moved to oppose the Bill, calling for it to be withdrawn. 

Debate report

In an emergency resolution on passing a vote of no confidence in Andrew Lansley and the Coalition Government’s NHS reforms, members queued up to have their say at the microphone.

Mike Travis, Greater Liverpool and Knowsley branch, proposer of the resolution, began the debate by saying that it’s not about Andrew Lansley, it’s about “our patients” and “services being wiped off the face of the NHS”. This was echoed by other members who said it was not about an individual, it’s about a whole government.

Many members voiced passionate opinions and concerns about the way the reforms have been managed and the overwhelming consensus was that nurses have no confidence in Andrew Lansley and the coalition government’s reforms. One member stated we’ll be “mourning the loss of the true meaning of the NHS in England. If it goes through the NHS is dying”.

Members from around the UK stood united, with one member saying although it’s a “devolved issue, it’s a UK-wide organisation, therefore a UK-wide issue”.  Judith Ross, Clyde branch stated that the reforms will “bring the NHS down for all of us”.

Speakers voiced concerns for particular specialties, including mental health, older people, and the care of the homeless and those with long-term conditions. There was also concern over the future of newly qualified nurses and nursing students and how they could be inspired to provide good care with so many cuts being made.

Mike Hayward, South West London (Outer) branch stood on stage with his mobile phone and simply played part of a speech by David Cameron in the run up to the last general election in which he said there would be “no more pointless re-organisations”.

There were several speakers who urged caution saying that we must ensure the avenues of discussion and negotiation remain open and that nurses must be at the top table of decision making. It was also stated that nurses are not against reform and change, if it is for the good. 

Rallying calls echoed throughout the auditorium with speakers saying we have to “fight for what we believe in” and “the NHS will be finished when we stop fighting for it…we’re not stopping!” 


For:       98.76% (478)
Against:  1.24% (6)
Abstain:    (13)