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 December 2009

Christmas message

For many, Christmas is a time to take stock of what has come and New Year is a time to contemplate what the year ahead may hold.

2009 saw the RCN take its first bold step into the world of new media and I took my own leap into the blogosphere. However, while our means of communicating may have changed somewhat, the values at the very heart of nursing have not. We will continue to champion care, defend dignity and support society’s health.

From whistle-blowing to an all-graduate nursing profession; staff shortages in Mid-Staffs to swine flu; recession to assisted suicide, nursing has been confronted with diverse challenges and diverse difficulties in 2009.

There have however also been victories and I am tremendously proud to represent an organisation which has been a voice for nursing for over 90 years. We have recovered more than £5 million in compensation for our members, secured the third year of a pay deal for our members and launched a whistle-blowing hotline to help our members speak up where they see poor care.

More than simply being a voice for members, the RCN aims to support members in being a voice for high standards of care.

Christmas is also when we take time out to be with friends or family. Every year, I and other RCN staff visit hospitals on Christmas Day to offer our support to staff who continue to offer care throughout the Christmas period.

There are also those who are even further from their families at this festive time, and I am touched by the bravery and self-sacrifice of the military nurses and healthcare assistants who are far from home in the line of duty.

I have only one resolution in the coming year, and that is that the RCN should continue to be a voice for our members, a voice for nursing and a voice for healthcare. May I wish all my blog readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Finally, if you’re interested in hearing the latest RCN podcast, a round-up of the year’s top health stories, you can listen on the RCN website or by visiting iTunes and searching ‘Royal College of Nursing’ http://bit.ly/4SbCcZ

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

‘From good to great…’

The Department of Health has recently outlined its 5-year plan for transforming the health service from ‘good to great’. Its strategy is to make the NHS ‘preventative, people-centred and productive’.

The huge amounts of change that have already taken place in the NHS are a tribute to the hard work of healthcare professionals and policy-makers. Whether it has been the vast reduction in waiting times, or lowering mortality rates from cancer; we have seen huge progress and significant change already in the NHS.

However, an NHS that does not react to the changing needs of the patients and potential patients is an NHS that stands still. We must be constantly aspiring to advancement and improvement and questioning how we can make a good health service into something great.

I believe that it is through front-line staff and front-line services that great healthcare can be achieved. This is why it is so crucial that in the 5-year plan, the NHS has included a dedication to not cutting front-line services.

As demands on the health service continue to increase, we must never compromise care for cuts. The increasing burden of preventable health problems means that we must offer prevention rather than just cure. Alcohol and smoking each cost the NHS £2.7 billion a year and obesity cost £4.2 billion in 2007, a figure which is expected to rise to £6.3 billion in just five years.

The DH plan recognises that a forward-thinking health service must be patient-centred, focusing on care, compassion and choice. Together we can go from good to great, with nursing at the heart of this progress.

You can read the RCN response to the plan here and read the full 5-year plan on the Department of Health website.