Nurses 'demoralised' by row over Welsh NHS, says RCN chief

Tina Donnelly
Image caption Tina Donnelly said it was time politicians put patients at the forefront of moving forward

Nurses are finding the political row over the Welsh NHS both "tiresome and demoralising", according to the head of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales.

RCN director Tina Donnelly said it was time for politicians to stop fighting and put patients at the forefront of moving forward.

It follows a series of clashes between the Conservatives and Labour in recent months over the state of the Welsh NHS.

The latest rows came this week.

"I have to disagree in terms of some of the comments they were making and to be quite honest the nursing profession in Wales is finding all this political to-ing and fro-ing extremely tiresome and actually demoralising," she told BBC Radio Wales on Saturday.

"It's about time the politicians actually put patients at the forefront.

"That was something [UK Health Secretary] Jeremy Hunt did say in his speech yesterday - that patients should be at the centre of all of this and that's something the Royal College of Nursing does uphold."

She added: "It is important that the politicians stop knocking the NHS between the two of them and to look at actually what the successes are

"There is an opportunity here, I think, for the Welsh government to look at what the Nuffield report is saying."

Ms Donnelly said the Welsh government needed to spend more money on dealing with ambulance service delays and freeing up resuscitation bays in hospitals "to get patients through the system".

She also called for increased spending on GPs and home care could make a huge difference.

'Two hoots'

"What we haven't seen is an investment in the community to enable that process to happen," she said.

"We haven't got enough GPs and certainly don't have enough community nurses and that's where the Welsh government could rise to the challenge and say they are putting patients at the centre."

On Wednesday First Minister Carwyn Jones claimed David Cameron "doesn't care two hoots about the NHS in Wales" after the prime minister said Welsh Labour's health record was "dreadful" and the NHS in Wales was "a shambles".

Then on Thursday. an independent report by the Nuffield Trust said Welsh government cuts to NHS funding might be responsible for longer waiting times.

But the study also said performance has improved in other areas, with no evidence that Wales was "lagging behind" the rest of the UK.

Responding to the report, Mr Jones said the Labour-led Welsh government had been at the end of "some pretty vitriolic political attacks over the last few weeks over the Welsh NHS and the report shows that those attacks were unfounded".

But at the Welsh Conservative spring conference on Friday, Mr Cameron renewed his attack saying the healthcare workforce in Wales were being "woefully let down by Labour".

He said Wales was witnessing a "national scandal" as Offa's Dyke "has become the line between life and death", while Mr Hunt accused the Welsh government of "sleepwalking into a Welsh Mid Staffs tragedy".

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