Nurses today voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion of "no confidence" in the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and his management of NHS reforms.
Delegates at the Royal College of Nursing conference in Liverpool voted 99 per cent in favour of the motion, to 1 per cent against.
The RCN’s leadership had attempted to amend the motion to delay any no confidence vote until after the conclusion of the Government’s listening exercise.
But amid angry and passionate scenes on the conference floor the amendment was dropped when nurse after nurse took to the stage to condemn the Government.
“What this is about is how Andrew Lansley has introduced these reforms,” said Geoff Earl.
“They are being driven by ideological dogma not by what is best for our patients. This (vote) is about our patients not about us.”
Another nurse went onto the platform and played a tape of Cameron’s promise in 2010 to “stop the pointless reorganisation of the NHS”. Birmingham nurse Bethann Siviter added: “If these reforms go through the NHS is dying.”
Andrew Frazer, an emergency care nurse said: “When Andrew Lansley addressed us last year we listened to him politely and decided to adopt a wait and see policy. Well we’ve waited and we’ve seen and I for one don’t like what I’ve seen.
“We’ve been trimmed to the bone for years. Trying our damnest to deliver excellent care with limited resources. Here’s a message for Mr Lansley - if you cut frontline services in the short term care maybe a little cheaper – but in the long term care will be poorer and people will die.”
This afternoon Mr Lansley himself will arrive in Liverpool to address a group of around 60 RCN representatives where he is likely to be given a tough reception. Delegates are particularly incensed that he will not address all member of the Congress and at one stage this morning then was even a threat of an amendment that would have seen the RCN boycott the meeting altogether – unless he was prepared to speak to all of them.
That vote was dropped but strength of feeling is running high – and even the 60 nurses present are likely to prove a difficult audience for him.
In a statement on his way up to Liverpool after the vote was announced Mr Lansley said: “The nurses’ union support the principles of the Bill. But I know from listening to them that they want further nurse involvement in decisions. So do I. And I understand their concerns. We are listening to nurses and will make improvements.
"There isn't an option to do nothing if we want to sustain the NHS for future generations. Any Government would be faced with the same challenges, only it would have been far worse under Labour because they wanted to cut the NHS budget, whereas we are investing an extra £11.5 billion into the service”.
The Government has said it will use a "pause" in the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill to listen to concerns about the plans.
Other unions, including the British Medical Association, have condemned parts of the Bill, as have patient groups, royal colleges and MPs from various political parties.Reuse content