Welcome to my Blog. I hope you find the posts interesting, informative and perhaps even entertaining(!). I'll update this Blog with my responses to topical stories of the day, important news and tales of my travels up and down the UK, meeting our inspirational nursing staff.

The RCN represents almost 400,000 nurses in the UK and is the country's largest nursing union.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

RCN: Fit for the Future

This week is an important time for the RCN itself. In the next few days our members will receive voting papers from Electoral Reform Services.

Members are being asked to vote on a crucial amendment to the RCN Royal Charter enabling us to change our legal structure and set up our charity as a separate organisation. It’s a small but important change – important because it will ensure that we meet Charity Commission requirements and legislation governing charities.

You may well have heard discussion in the media lately about how the Charity Commission is reviewing organisations such as independent schools which have charitable status. Consequently, RCN Council approached the Commission last year about changing our legal set-up to enable us to meet its requirements whilst ensuring we could carry on business as usual. The Charity Commission has agreed we can proceed on the basis we proposed.

The proposal will not affect the services we offer to our members and will enable our professional and trade union activities to carry on hand in hand as they do now in one organisation. We will, however, have a separate charitable foundation which will fund our charitable activities through grants.

It is very important that our members vote and return their voting paper in plenty of time for the closing date of Monday 26 October, two days in advance of our AGM which is being held at RCN headquarters in London.

More information about the AGM vote can be found on our website at www.rcn.org.uk/agm2009

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The importance of the school nurse...

As anyone who listened to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Case Notes’ yesterday evening http://bit.ly/b4r8d will know, the role of the school nurse has changed dramatically over the last few decades.

We heard how they used to act as ‘hand maids’ whose duties included checking for nits and preparing notes for the onsite doctor.

Their role now could hardly be more different. Today, across the UK, school nurses are leading, not following, and spend their time inoculating, advising and mentoring hundreds of thousand of school children every day.

Whether it’s running sexual health clinics, providing the important immunisations or writing detailed care plans for those with chronic conditions – the school nurse is an essential part of child health.

For those children lucky enough to have easy access to a school nurse, they are an invaluable tool. They can highlight the dangers of alcohol, smoking and obesity at an age where prevention is more powerful than cure.

However, not all children have the access to school nurses that they need or deserve. A recent RCN survey found that two thirds of school nurses felt overstretched and unsupported by their rising workload, and that government targets to increase the numbers of school nurses are unlikely to be met by the deadline next year.

Furthermore, we found that the average school nurse now looks after more than seven schools, with a quarter looking after more than 10. One nurse questioned looked after 26 schools.

The RCN has campaigned for every child to have access to a school nurse and we will continue to do so. The current shortage must be addressed and we mustn’t allow current financial constraints to threaten this investment.

School nurses are the best tool we have in fighting some of the biggest health issues facing our country and we must be bold enough to invest in them now.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A response...

I just wanted to write a short note as way of reply to the comments posted on the blog of late.

The stories of poor patient care described here are of course heartbreaking and should never have happened. My point in earlier posts however was that these examples of poor care represent the minority of cases. The vast majority of nurses are good, hardworking and dedicated people.

The stories posted here represent the unacceptable 2% of patients that experience poor care and of course more must be done to reduce that figure further.

Thank you to all those who have posted.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Maternal Mortality

One of the best things about working for an organisation like the RCN is that you get to meet some brilliant people undertaking some very important work.

Yesterday I visited 10 Downing Street to meet with Sarah Brown and other members of the Maternal Mortality campaign team.

Maternal Mortality is a campaign that the RCN has been proud to support and the meeting was very productive and informative. It’s only when you look at the facts surrounding maternal mortality that one realises just what an important topic it is.

Every minute of every day, a woman dies of pregnancy related complications, totalling more than half a million women each year. By the time you’ve read this blog, somewhere in the world a child has been born who will never know their mother.

When I say ‘somewhere in the world’, there’s a 99% chance that the mother will die in a developing country. In sub-Saharan Africa, a mother has a 1 in 8 chance of dying in childbirth; in Western Europe that figure is just 1 in 8000.

Almost half of all women in developing countries deliver their babies without a nurse, midwife or doctor present.

The simple truth is that these figures are an international scandal and we need real action now.

The Maternal Mortality campaign have set themselves a number of key objectives in order to ensure that this problem gets the recognition it deserves. To find out all about the campaign and what it’s calling for, visit the website - www.whiteribbonalliance.org

Please, get involved and support this incredibly important cause.