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Government pledges are hollow words without workforce

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Concern has been raised at staff shortages Concern has been raised at staff shortages

Without action to address staff vacancies in the NHS, plans outlined in the Queen’s Speech will not be achieved, the RCN has said.

The Queen's Speech focused on measures to grow and strengthen the economy. It proposed a levelling up and regeneration bill to enshrine the government’s flagship policy and to hold the government itself accountable for reporting on progress against the levelling up white paper’s missions.

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‘Ministers say supporting the NHS to clear the COVID-19 backlog is one of their key priorities – but without the workforce to do it these are only hollow words. Their levelling-up agenda is front and centre of their legislative plans, but the playing field in nursing is far from even,’ said RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen.

‘With tens of thousands of vacancies in health and care across the country, nursing staff are facing a losing battle in trying to provide safe and effective care without the staff to do it. Clearing the COVID-19 backlog is just one part of the picture – there has been a sharp rise in people leaving the profession in the last year. Without a credible workforce plan, patients will continue to suffer.’

Health-specific announcements included the draft Mental Health Act reform bill and the conversion therapy bill. While the Government’s intentions were praised, concern has been raised about the viability of the plans.

‘Plans for reforms of the Mental Health Act are a step in the right direction, but that also requires a fully-funded workforce plan,’ added Ms Cullen.

‘Despite government rhetoric today, the number of unfilled nurse jobs in the NHS is not coming down.’

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