NFR would like to welcome Dr. Peter Carter, the new General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, who takes up post this week.

Now is a crucial time for nurses, patients and the provision of health care. As such, NFR would encourage Dr. Carter to move away from the inappropriate practice of demanding ever more tax payers’ money for the NHS and ever more legislative favour for his members.

Instead, he and the RCN should capture the moral and intellectual high ground of debate by championing substantive reform. It is time that patients are treated as consumers and for the organised nursing profession to be seen to ditch its counter-productive fetish with bland and uniform state healthcare.

Healthcare in the UK must be opened up to a world of trusted brands and a genuine market; a world in which nurses will find themselves working in an environment with the incentives and resources to deliver popular and truly high quality services.

In reality, this means that Dr. Carter and the RCN should focus on six campaigning themes:


  1. Openly recognise that so long as UK healthcare remains nationalised the ministers running the thing will demand an endless array of information and statistics and all the attendant bureaucracy so that they can propagandise at the dispatch box of the House of Commons
  2. Openly recognise that the real cost of a ‘democratic state health system’ is because it is not run for consumers along genuine business lines it will inevitably be overseen by politicians pursuing the vote motive
  3. Encourage the government re-cast the NHS as simply an important – but not sole – funder of UK healthcare services. Lobby the government to allow people to co-fund their healthcare and thereby grow the pot available. Do not even think about asking the already overburdened tax payers and patients of Britain for any more tax money
  4. Encourage the government to set free – through a range of for and not-for-profit privatisations – all NHS hospitals, particularly the poor performers
  5. Encourage local diversities to blossom. Encourage all UK hospitals to openly compete with each other. Failures should be allowed and in some instances will be taken over by more successful operations. Allow all hospitals to engage a dynamic labour market by abandoning the counter-productive idea of national pay agreements for nurses.
  6. Encourage commercial free speech across healthcare. Campaign for hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers to openly advertise their wares and to pro-actively inform consumers of where the best deals are to be found.

If Dr. Carter and his colleagues at the RCN follow these points then they will not only champion the long term cause of nurses but most importantly the rights of patients as consumers.