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RCN calls on new government to work in partnership to tackle national health emergency

5 Jul 2024

Our letter to Sir Keir Starmer says nursing staff have the solutions to overcome the significant challenges facing health and social care. Investment in staff must be his priority as PM.


The RCN is calling on the new Prime Minister to work with the nursing profession to tackle the national emergency in health and social care.  

In a letter sent to Sir Keir Starmer today (5 July) on behalf of more than 500,000 RCN members, we ask the new Prime Minister to meet with us at the earliest opportunity to discuss the priorities for nursing and show that, as the RCN, we are strong partners in finding the solutions to today’s crisis. 

There are tens of thousands of nursing vacancies and many staff are considering leaving their jobs. Patients are receiving care in inappropriate settings, such as corridors, and nursing staff are being forced to compromise their standards of care as they do their best to cope without proper supplies or vital equipment.  

In our general election manifesto, we listed 12 nursing priorities that the new government must address. These are the issues we’ll be raising throughout this parliament.  

The new government must:   

  • Deliver fair pay for nursing. This means committing to building constructive relationships with trade unions so that the late NHS pay award for 2024/25 is delivered quickly and nursing staff in the independent sector receive fair pay and equal working conditions. 
  • Make patient safety a priority. Forced reporting of corridor care must begin immediately. Without clear reporting, the health and care system will continue to hide patients suffering from unsafe and undignified care.  
  • Stand by their word. Within the first 100 days of the new government, the Prime Minister must stand by his word to repeal legislation that restricts the right to strike and launch a sector-wide investigation into exploitation in social care.  

Professor Nicola Ranger, RCN Acting General Secretary and Chief Executive, said: “From day one, Keir Starmer can begin turning around failing health and care services. To do so, he must deliver a reset in relations with those services, the people who work in them and their professional representatives. We will act as partners in finding constructive solutions.  

“With backing and investment from his government, nursing staff can get the health service ‘back on its feet’. At present, patients are suffering in corridors and dying alone due to dangerously high nursing shortages.”  

In our letter, we highlight the need for legally enforceable safety-critical nurse-to-patient ratios and tell the Prime Minister that financial instability in the higher education sector poses a threat to the supply of new nurses coming into the profession.    

Nicola added: “One of the first acts from the government must be to announce an NHS pay award – fair pay is an important tool in retaining more nursing staff in services at a time of widespread vacancies.” 



Page last updated - 05/07/2024