Less than 2 weeks to save the NHS

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In the last seven years my future, your future and our children's future has been taken away from us by the Tories. Instead we have lived through years of tough, unnecessary austerity which has been driven by ideology not the needs of our economy. 

We have seen people living with disabilities cruelly sanctioned, homelessness rise to an all-time high, a huge increase in child poverty and the decimation of our public services as they are starved of the necessary resources. I know as a nurse that working in the NHS has become increasingly difficult in this time.

Last week I attended the Royal College of Nursing Congress and we made the decision that if the next government does not scrap the pay cap, we will formally ballot for industrial action after the results of our indicative ballot. This is for the first time in the RCN’s 101 year history, and I think that in itself speaks volumes of how angry NHS staff are at this Tory Government.

The Tories have not committed in their manifesto to scrapping the pay cap; neither did they attend our conference unlike the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn and the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party Tim Farron. The Prime Minister instead got her secretary to send a letter declining our invitation whilst claiming she values us.

To many delegates attending, this showed a real contempt for our profession. In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn got a standing ovation for his promises to scrap the pay cap, to reinstate the NHS bursary, provide us with safe staffing levels and give the NHS funding it needs.

For once we have a politician who listens to our profession, unlike those who have ignored us over the last seven years.

During this election campaign, the Labour Party has stood firm with nurses who have spoken out at their plight, compared to the Tories who just seem to brush aside our concerns.

On social media, I have been appalled to see some people brand the stories shared by nurses that they are going to food banks as 'fake.’' Although not every nurse is using a food bank, one is one too many. We should be empowering everyone to speak up about their lives, not vilify them for bravely speaking the truth.

It’s not just the pay cap where Labour is articulating a real alternative when it comes to the future of our NHS.

Take the ridiculously expensive car parking charges at hospitals to give just one clear example.

Patients should not be paying to park their car in an emergency and families should not be deterred from visiting loved ones when they are ill. The feeling of having those who care for us around us during times we are vulnerable helps with our recovery and wellbeing.

Labour has committed to scrapping car parking charges, which will be funded by raising insurance tax on private healthcare to 20%. This seems like a fair policy to me, no one should be penalised for being sick or to be a staff member  caring for the sick. This is another area where the Tories have got their priorities all wrong.

Yet it’s when it comes to their attitude to migrants who keep our NHS working that we see just how reactionary the Tories are, and what lengths they will go to in order to put their bid to ape UKIP on immigration ahead of the actual needs of our economy and public services, including the NHS.

As a nurse I see every day how our colleagues from all over the world make our NHS a wonderful place to work and an exceptional place to be cared for in. Reading the Tories’ manifesto I was upset to see they are still not guaranteeing the right of EU citizens in the UK, despite warnings if they do not we could face a nursing shortage of 42,000 nurses and thousands of doctors.  Furthermore, now the Tories are suggesting that employers will have to pay two thousand pounds per migrant worker for them to work in the UK.

In contrast to the Tories, Labour will do the right thing for Britain and for the NHS, and grant rights to all EU citizens.

Alongside the crisis in the NHS caused by the Tories putting it through the tightest financial squeeze in its history, our social care system has also crumbled after seven years of funding cuts, meaning that we do not have the services we need to provide the care people need.

The Tories plan for this is a ‘death tax,’ with people having to sell their homes to pay for care if it is worth over £100,000 once they have passed away. Our elderly have worked tirelessly, contributing to our society in many different ways and paying National Insurance contributions throughout their life.

Now if the Tories get re-elected, under these plans, families would have to go through the trauma of selling their family home after their loves one has passed away. What if your parents had hoped to give their home to their children who are struggling to get by? Or perhaps their child has moved into their house to care for them and will be left homeless?

This is a disgrace - the Tories will hammer ordinary people whilst they keep lowering corporation tax to suit the needs of their super rich friends.

But again in this area, there is a clear and viable alternative - Labour will increase funding in social care by 8 billion over the lifetime of the next parliament and create a national care service that is accessible for all.

Working in the NHS is tough. After seven years of Tory austerity, we are on our knees. I know that under a Labour government, this will be different. We will have the time, the resources and be valued, our morale will not at rock bottom, so that we can provide the best care to our patients and the best care to ourselves too.


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