The Congress meeting for the Royal College of Nursing has seen delegates back a vote of no confidence regarding Andrew Lansley’s management of health reforms that have been proposed for England. The Health and Social Care Bill has long been the dominant theme during the gathering and most members have spoken out, claiming the health secretary’s reforms would hurt both nurses and patients.
It has caused Mr Lansley to defend his actions, though he accepted that he may have been in the wrong with the way he liaised with the organisation and other groups. He said he believed in the NHS as an organisation and asserted: “I am sorry if what I am setting out to do hasn’t communicated itself. I am not the person who knows best. That is why we need to put the decision-making about the NHS in the hands of patients and the nurses and doctors looking after them.”
Nonetheless, Mr Lansley was under fire for this speech too, as he decided not to address the full Congress, conducting a listening exercise with a smaller group of members.
The emergency debate at the larger meeting garnered constant condemnation of reforms, which would see GPs given control over a majority chunk of the health budget.
For example, Linda Bailey, a member of the RCN Public Health Forum, said the government’s pledge to listen seemed unfounded and added that nurses were being treated like “idiots”. She said: “It’s not that we don’t understand. We do understand. We just don’t agree.”