The last ten years have been ones of great change for nurses. We have seen great investment, in both in infrastructure and staff and no matter what criticism is levelled at Tony Blair you cannot take away the fact that healthcare spending is double that of pre-1997 levels.
The last ten years has also seen improvements in the opportunities of nurses for development, particularly in the areas of nurse practitioning and leadership.
For example locally we have had a new A&E department built, appointed nurse consultants, modern matrons and specialist nurses such as myself are now allowed to prescribe medicines from the full formulary.
Recently this good record has been challenged by cuts made to services as a result of the deficits crisis.
The Government has tried to solve a traditional long term problem over a short time period. This has resulted in some serious implications for nurses as cuts have led to freezing of vacancies, posts being ‘deleted’, a steep decline in the use of agency and bank staff, resulting in a serious impact on patient care.
The steps taken forward by the Agenda for Change pay deal have gone some way to improving nurses pay, but they are still far removed from salaries seen by other public sector workers like the police and teachers. It has been disappointing that the prime ministers departure has also taken place as nurses are up in arms about the below inflation pay offer.