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New Government urged to ‘reset’ relations with health workers by RCN

The RCN has called the Government to act on its promise of getting the NHS 'back on its feet'
Sir Keir Starmer has won the first Labour general election victory since 2005

The RCN has called upon new Prime Minister Keir Starmer to ‘deliver a reset in relations with health and care services’ as he sets out his immediate priorities for the first Labour Government in 14 years.

In his first speech from Downing Street, Sir Keir cited nurses as one of the groups whose contributions to society have gone unnoticed for too long, and pledged to put ‘our NHS back on its feet'.

RCN acting General Secretary and Chief Executive Nicola Ranger said Sir Keir had ‘rightly acknowledged the insecurity felt by nursing staff’ and promised ’to act as partners in finding constructive solutions.

‘With backing and investment from his government, nursing staff can get the health service ‘back on its feet’. At present, patients are suffering in corridors and dying alone due to dangerously high nursing shortages,’ said Professor Ranger.

The RCN has also called to the Government to finalise a pay award for his year as a priority. ‘Our members went to polling booths without having received a pay offer for this year and it is unreasonable to make them wait any longer. One of the first acts from the new government must be to announce an NHS pay award – fair pay is an important tool in retaining more nursing staff in services at a time of widespread vacancies,’ said Professor Ranger.

Health service union Unison gave Sir Keir’s election a more fulsome welcome. ‘Labour’s historic victory promises real change for public services,’ said general secretary Christina McAnea.

‘Unlike many previous prime ministers, Keir Starmer isn’t a career politician. He’s a true public servant and understands the value of high-quality services to local communities, and the importance of the workers who provide them.

‘There’s much to fix, including across the NHS, social care and local government. But Keir’s leadership offers the promise of a fresh start for the UK, its key services and working people everywhere.’

Ilford North MP has been appointed Health and Social Care Secretary in Sir Keir’s first cabinet. Previously the Shadow Health Secretary, Mr Streeting, stood back temporarily from frontline politics in 2021 to be treated for kidney cancer. ‘The NHS saved my life. Now I’m determined to save our NHS. That work starts today.’ he said.

The former RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen has also become Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, in Northern Ireland.