Politicians Must Put the NHS First by Tackling the Funding and Pay Crises

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 30, 2007 | Go to article overview

Politicians Must Put the NHS First by Tackling the Funding and Pay Crises


Byline: By Tina Donnelly

As the people of Wales are preparing to vote, we at the Royal College of Nursing have a responsibility to highlight those areas within the NHS that we believe are problematic and impact on patient care.

We also recognise that we have a duty to help tackle these problems by developing and campaigning for credible alternatives and workable solutions to ensure that the health service remains free at the point of delivery and that the care delivered is not compromised.

This is precisely what we have done in the recommendations contained within the manifesto of the RCN in Wales, which was launched in September.

We have been campaigning hard to get the political parties to adopt our recommendations.

This document contained our key policy actions chosen by our 23,000 Welsh members, all of whom have a vote in the forthcoming election.

It is fantastic to be able to write that 15 of the 18 RCN key policy actions have been explicitly adopted by one of more political parties.

The RCN has always been a champion of health care reform and modernisation of services. We recognise the need to congratulate politicians and praise progress when it is due.

We have publicly welcomed the commitment for Wales to have 6,000 more extra nurses by the year 2010 and the extra investment in the NHS.

All this is good for the health of Wales, as are free prescriptions.

However, what we cannot accept is to return to shortages, deficits and a reduction in health care professionals who are at the heart of delivering patient services.

It was disturbing to read that the NHS in Wales is continuing to spiral into debt with a forecast overspend of pounds 33m for the last 12 months. We hope the newly-elected Welsh Assembly Government will acknowledge the distress which this dash for financial balance has caused and continues to cause among nurses and other professional groups, managers and, most importantly, patients.

Two years ago, we issued our first warning about the scale and impact of the cash crisis facing the NHS in Wales. Today financial problems continue to dog the NHS.

It is vital that patients come first when balancing NHS budgets and longer-term financial management must be achieved, but the new Government must also realise that every reorganisation of the NHS costs more money. …

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