The Royal College of Nursing seems to remain firmly in the pocket of government, despite being the biggest nursing union. I was shocked a few years back when the RCN backed privatisation of health care:
- "The RCN is not idiologically opposed to the private, independent and voluntary sectors and accepts that they can have a legitimate role to play in the NHS..." fortunately "....The RCN is opposed to the wholescale privatisation of the NHS."
So the biggest nursing union was happy for services to be privatised. Their statement on Andrew Lansley's White Paper was slightly more reassuring, but they are still missing the passion and drive to stand up and be counted. They are hardly a voice for radical change.
There is a real lack of campaign groups that focus on getting a nursing voice across. A quick google search revealed just one: Nurses For Reform - an ultra right wing pressure group motivated by profit not care. Where is the left leaning alternative? Where is the group fighting for whistleblower rights? Where is the group campaigning for human rights? Where is the group campaigning political change?
We need nurses putting joint letters into the national press. The docs are very good at this, but I don't see nurses organised like this. The comment on a NT piece epitomises the problem:
- "It is alright say speak up, but I have been dismissed twice, when employed less than the statutory 12mths for just suggesting change, being seen to make waves, and with a mortgage and children to support it isn't that easy to keep being proactive."
I suspect much of the problem stems from a historical oppression of women and of lower paid workers, however this makes the struggle even more important. The students have risen to the challenge and it is time for nurses to organise and be heard.