The political context surrounding the 2019 UK Government General Election

 Dame Donna Kinnair 6 Dec 2019 Chief Executive and General Secretary

400 years ago, John Donne famously wrote “No man is an island”, and I believe this phrase has more relevance today than ever. Just as all our lives are interconnected and entwined, the health and wellbeing of our nation is entirely embedded in every decision a future government will make.

400 years ago, John Donne famously wrote “No man is an island”, and I believe this phrase has more relevance today than ever. Just as all our lives are interconnected and entwined, the health and wellbeing of our nation is entirely embedded in every decision a future government will make.

It is impossible to separate this election from the wider issues which are affecting the physical and mental health of our population. 

We know that good public health depends on so much more than just access to vaccinations and time with a health visitor. 

We know that meaningful prevention requires collaboration across education, health, emergency services, environment, national statistics and technology. 

We know that without the right numbers of health and care staff, people will wait longer for treatment, opportunities to prevent complications may be missed and vital care gets left undone.

Nurses and nursing staff make up the largest proportion of our health and care workforce. Our actions improve the health and wellbeing of the population. This is critical to the functioning of any type of economy, whoever is leading the country. Therefore nursing is inherently political, but our health and care system should not be used as a political football.

It’s easy for newspaper headlines to focus on Brexit and political point-scoring, but it’s nurses who are the most trusted profession. We can use this trust to help the public communicate what they want the future leaders of this country to commit to in terms of improving the health and wellbeing of the nation. 

It’s time for an honest conversation with the public about what they need and expect from their health and care system. This election offers a real opportunity for cross-party consensus. Our position is clear, we need the next UK Government  to:

  • Address the nursing workforce shortage 
  • Invest in health and care services 
  • Invest in nursing education and professional development 
  • Build an immigration system that supports nursing
  • Improve working conditions and pay

We can support the public to have this conversation. As health and care professionals, we make decisions based on evidence and our professional judgement. Let’s take the same approach to conversations with the public; present them with facts and evidence, and tell them your story.

Be political. Use your voice to gain support for the priorities of the nursing profession.

Dame Donna Kinnair

Dame Donna Kinnair

Chief Executive & General Secretary

Prior to her appointment as Acting Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dame Donna was Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice and worked with UK-wide RCN staff to drive and implement RCN professional nursing, policy and practice strategy.

Before joining the RCN, Donna held various roles, including Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.
 
Donna advised the PM’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in 2010 and served as nurse/child health assessor to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry.

Page last updated - 09/12/2019