More than 5,000 RCN members and supporters have so far taken action to help bring an end to the ongoing workforce crisis affecting health and care services in England.
When the NHS Long Term Plan was published earlier this year, the College welcomed its ambitious direction. But we said that to deliver the plan, there must be clear accountability for making sure there are enough staff to meet the population’s needs.
We argued that the health secretary should be accountable to parliament for an adequate supply of health and care staff. But other national, regional and local bodies should have duties and responsibilities too.
NHS England and NHS Improvement are now seeking views on changes to legislation that they say will help deliver the Long Term Plan. With a clear opportunity to demand changes to the proposals so the workforce crisis can be addressed, RCN members have been responding in their thousands.
Chris Elston, an RCN learning rep at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is among those who have used an online tool on the RCN website to respond to the consultation. He says: “You just put in your details and there’s a pre-written message. You press submit and it does it all for you.
“But the beauty of it is that you can tailor it so if you’ve got some additional local information you can add it.”
Chris recently attended an RCN event designed to help shape our campaign for safe and effective staffing in England, and says recruitment and retention are national issues.
“Certainly, whenever I speak to my members or do a shift on the shop floor, you notice a reliance on flexible working – bank staff, agency staff and a lot of people doing extra hours to help out their colleagues.”
But he’s confident that, as in Wales, proper accountability for safe staffing is achievable. “We had a really good campaign with Scrap the Cap and there’s no reason why we can’t repeat it.”
RCN England Director Patricia Marquis said nursing staff should seize the chance to have their say. “Their voice has a real chance of being heard and the more members who take part, the louder that voice will be – and harder for Government and NHS England to ignore.
The letter that RCN members and supporters are being urged to send in response to the consultation outlines the extent of the current crisis – almost 40,000 nursing posts in England are vacant – and says the crisis will deepen unless key leaders are made accountable and responsible.
Using the automated tool we’ve created, it takes only one minute to send the letter and respond to the consultation.