The General Election campaign kicked off last week. We have three weeks to go before voters up and down the land, including nurses, will decide who will form the next government. On 23 March, the RCN held hustings. The three major political parties were represented by Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat), Andy Burnham (Labour) and Dan Poulter (Conservative), who faced some awkward questions from RCN members, including one lady who said they were all disingenuous. The messages were well-worn: Labour is passionate about the NHS; Liberal democrats will champion mental health; and, the Conservatives can be trusted with the NHS despite not mentioning it in their election manifesto. And beyond that, they didn't really give people anything to work with.
After Jeremy Hunt sent his junior to the RCN hustings, Mr Poulter pulled out of the London Nurse Show last week at the eleventh hour. Meanwhile Mr Hunt managed to give an interview to GP on the first day of the election campaign claiming that GPs would be at the heart of an NHS revolution, should he remain health secretary after the election. One might think that the nursing vote was worthless, to the Tories at least. Why? Do they think they will all vote Labour anyway so there is no point trying? Or is it that the however loud the nursing voice becomes, they are forever perceived as powerless doctors' assistants. Like some overhang from the Carry On films and the suffragette era.
Unless the Tories pull their fingers out, they are unlikely to secure many primary care nurse votes. But will it make a difference? Will the NHS be enough to get Labour back into Downing Street? Anything could happen in the most open general election in years.