London members quiz Health Secretary at Congress
Published: 26 June 2012
Several RCN London members including Patrick Coyne put health secretary Andrew Lansley on the spot at a Q&A session following Lansley’s speech at Congress.
Patrick Coyne, an RCN learning rep from Inner North West London branch challenged Andrew Lansley on support for nurses handling rising levels of drug and alcohol abuse. Here are his memories of a (slightly) nerve-racking occasion.
“RCN Inner North West London branch, had only just arrived for the Congress welcome event arranged by London region when we were asked to propose a question for Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, due to speak next morning.
“It seemed like one of those 'leadership opportunities' too good to miss, so I texted off a question that is a burning issue for my professional practice at the moment : how nurses can be expected to cope with the rising levels of drug and alcohol abuse presenting to the NHS at a time of huge pressure on resources. When my question was accepted it was a real win!
“The RCN press department helped me to finesse my question, which only left me with the small task of standing up in front of the whole of Congress and addressing the health secretary. Fortunately this was all well organised, with the microphone close at hand and my question printed out in case I needed a prompt.
“And what happened next? Well, the minister did not give a ‘full and comprehensive response` but he did recognise the expanding workload of A&E alcohol and drug liaison nurses and their vital role in early intervention and treatment.
“So, apart from the nerves, it was a useful opportunity to put my clinical concerns direct to the government and also to remind Congress of the importance of nurses in tackling substance misuse.
“It was also a great curtain raiser for the launch of our RCN learning introductory course developed with ANSA (the Association of Nurses in Substance Misuse) later in Congress week.”
Other RCN London members who put questions to Andrew Lansley were Mike Smith, Inner South West London Branch, and Chris McDonnell, Outer North Central Branch.