A Political Manifesto for Nursing in unjust times
Despite general satisfaction and support for nurses and the NHS by the public, there are continuing issues that threaten to undermine the trust given by the public, and to the health and wellbeing of the public. These issues include the health and social care needs of older people, care for people with mental health problems and inequalities in health as outlined in ‘The Spirit Level’. Junior Doctors are currently flexing their political muscles while public health professionals have been engaged in civic and political advocacy supported by such organisations as ‘The Equality Trust’. The political ‘nursing voice’ has yet to be clearly heard. To do this we propose an ‘Action Nursing’ which should:
- Equip all nurses with an understanding of the social, political and ecological determinants of health.
- Encourage and support nurses to confront vested interests through action at local, national and international level, by providing them with evidence, analysis, justification, critical concepts and theories and thus confidence to speak and to act.
- Create a network of clinical and academic nurses, and other co-opted health professionals, to argue and publicise the requirement to ‘speak truth to power’ and to engage in civic, academic and professional activity as part of a wider social movement from below.
- Seek and encourage research applications by nurses, alongside other academic colleagues, to continue to add to the body of scholarship on health inequalities and the politics of health care.
- To work with any of the Royal Colleges, and any interested parties, on political and civic action.
Acknowledging that many health professionals have been engaged in political action already, Action Nursing should encourage the wider body of nurses, and their health colleagues, into organised, confident civic and political action on their own working lives and the lives of the people they work with and for. Without this action, nursing and nurses may continue to be largely ignored, and thus relatively powerless, to change the experiences of vulnerable groups in society, i.e. most of us, the 99%, at some point in our lives.