I was only a civil servant for 5 years and I often muse to whether a civil servant is born or created? Why? Because I still see civil service traits in my behaviour – I seek to think before I speak and I often hold my own council in public – so I don’t often speak out about the actions of our politicians especially when it comes to nursing.
But I was surprised today to see that the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has turned down the invitation to attend the Royal College of Nursing annual conference next week in Liverpool, instead he is sending a junior minister Anne Milton MP.
Anne Milton was formally a nurse and I am sure she will listen to the nurses and effectively feedback what she hears but I do wonder if this will prove to be a political misjudgement. This is the annual conference of the organisation which represents the largest sector of the NHS workforce and comes just after Mr Lansley announced an exercise to listen to the NHS workforce and their views on the proposed changes to the NHS.
Nurses have faced a great deal of change over the last decade and they just get on and do and will be essential in delivering this administration’s health policies.
Maybe Mr Lansley recalls the reception Patricia Hewitt the former Secretary of State for Health, received in April 2006 when she attended the RCN Conference in Bournemouth to address their fears about the NHS deficit? Patricia Hewitt was jeered and slow hand-clapped by nurses the second time in three days that Ms Hewitt had been heckled by health workers, after she addressed Unison. I would also be interested to see if Mr Lansley will attend the medical professions equivalent.
To listen means to be present, to be in the moment, not thinking about the next job or what they did the night before but about being just right there for them. The Times today (8th April 2011) reported that The Department of Health suggested that an appearance by Mr Lansley had not been ruled out. I would hope that he does feel that he can be there for the Nursing Profession it will be to the benefit of the NHS and patients.