At the RCN Congress in Bournemouth on Monday, Gordon Brown won a standing ovation after heaping praise on nurses' role in the NHS and pledging to protect their pensions.
‘You can't protect the NHS and not include those that work in it. You work hard for your pensions, you deserve your pensions,' Mr Brown told nurses. 'So we will stick to the plans we have announced. Your pensions are safe with us.'
Mr Brown also promised to protect and increase frontline investment in the NHS, and said a Labour government would not enforce a public sector pay freeze if re-elected next month.
‘In the next few years pay awards will be tighter, but we don't believe, as others do, that a pay freeze is a way to a better NHS,' he said.
He also confirmed plans to invest in more specialist nurses, and pledged to give nurses greater autonomy in prescribing and referrals. He backed an increase in numbers of nurse consultants and nurse practitioners.
‘The nursing profession will take more day to day control of the NHS,' he said.