Welcome to the RCN Policy and International Department pages. For information on our role, go to What we do.
Many of the downloads in this section are in PDF format - see how to access PDF files.
EU directive on patients' rights to health care in other European countries
The RCN has responded to the Department of Health’s consultation on implementing the EU directive on patient’s rights to cross border care. The directive, agreed in March 2011, was set out to clarify patients’ rights to seek health care in other EU countries with costs paid or reimbursed by their home health system. It also states when the patients would need to get prior authorisation and determines what information member states must provide. The directive needs to become UK Law by October this year and the DH sought feedback on issues such as:
• improving information on patients’ rights and entitlements
• provisions for dealing with patients from other countries who want to use NHS facilities under the terms of the Directive
• how the processes of prior authorisation and patient reimbursement should work.
To read the RCN's consultation response take a look at the Policy webpages.
Moving care to the community: an international perspective
Moving care out of hospitals and closer to patients’ homes in the community has been a UK wide priority for over a decade; however despite the government’s commitment to boost community services, there is little evidence to show that the community nursing workforce is being invested in. We already know that the district nursing numbers have decreased over the last decade. The RCN has worked closely with our sister nursing organisations in Canada, Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark to learn from their experiences relating to this shift to the community. This report sets out the current policies and initiative internationally on the movement of care out of hospital, outlines the impact of these reforms on the nursing workforce and highlight some international trends.
Key recommendations include:
• a whole system approach
• towards service integration
• prioritise the nursing workforce
• balancing national uniformity with regional plurality.
The RCN supports the move to the community where it is clinically appropriate to do so, however to build a sustainable community workforce, robust workforce planned is needed and investments must be made to support, train and develop nurses to work in the community. To find out more, take a look at the policy briefings section of the RCN website.
RCN welcomes full implementation of regulations to protect nursing staff
The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the implementation of regulations that came into force from Saturday 11 May to protect staff from needlestick injuries, which can result in serious infections such as HIV and Hepatitis.
An estimated one million needlestick injuries occur in the European Union (EU) each year, with more than 100,000 occurring annually in the UK. The RCN lobbied hard in the EU for a directive which led to these regulations in 2010, which is now being made a reality in UK law.
Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary said: "This is a significant victory which has been hard won and demonstrates the importance of influencing EU health policy to benefit nurses and nursing. We have always believed that nurses and health care assistants should not have to go to work fearing that they could be exposed to serious infections.
"It is horrific to have serious infections such as Hepatitis and HIV simply because steps haven’t been taken to avoid preventable accidents. We made a commitment to our members to make this happen. Now that the regulations to prevent needlestick injuries are enshrined in law, we hope that employers are ready to implement them and to protect their staff."
See the article on the Nursing Times website.
Nurses blowing the whistle on poor care: a Norwegian case study
In light of the care failings at Mid Stafford hospital, raising concerns and effective complaint handling within the health and social care sector has become a priority. The RCN has produced a briefing which showcases the Norwegian system of reporting and handling complaints and the legislation in place to support staff who speak out against poor care and misconduct. A positive and open whistleblowing culture exists in Norway where employees feel empowered to report wrongdoings.
The briefing covers the main aspects of the Norwegian complaint handling process and whistleblowing legislation, which include:
• in the Norwegian system, in cases of compensation, the employer has to prove that retaliation did not occur, however this is not the case in England where the onus falls on the employee to prove that retaliation did occur in whistle-blowing disputes
• trade unions sit at health trust and hospital board level and are equal partners in all board decisions. This allows trade unions like the Norwegian Nurses Organisation (NNO) to flag nursing concerns and representative patient safety issues at board level. Trade union representative also sit on the ‘working environment board’ where all whistle-blowing cases are discussed and addressed
• the Norwegian electronic complaint handling system used to raise concerns has a color coded priority process where all high priority cases reported within hospitals, health trusts and specialised health centres are flagged with the Norwegian Knowledge Centre of Health Services (NOKC) (similar to the Care Quality Commission in England) within 24 hours - this has helped to foster a culture of transparency and openness.
The Norwegian example offers some learning opportunities for England, specifically in handling complaints comprehensively, fostering an open workplace culture and having a strong nursing presence at board level. To find out more, take a look at the policy briefings section of the RCN website.
Save the Children launches new campaign for breastfeeding
Save the Children have launched a campaign for breastfeeding with the publication of their report entitled “Superfood for Babies”. The report describes the powerful impact of breast feeding on reducing child mortality rates and argues that breastfeeding should be at the centre of efforts to improve child nutrition around the world. It also highlights the ways in which the actions of breast milk substitute companies are continuing to undermine breastfeeding in poorer countries, and as part of the campaign they have launched a petition calling on Nestlé and Danone to change their marketing practices.
Commenting on the report, Carmel Bagness, RCN Midwifery and Women’s Health Adviser, and Fiona Smith, RCN Adviser in Children's and Young People's Nursing, said:
“The RCN welcomes this extensive report which provides a global perspective on the positive value of encouraging breastfeeding in the fight against malnutrition. In particular the report highlights the use of breastfeeding as a super food in accelerating progress already made globally in reducing child mortality and morbidity. We fully support any strategy that attempts to empower women to have choices that support a better quality of life for themselves and their babies and children. We also recognise and support the need for national and global lobbying of national government bodies and other key authorities that could influence the health and wellbeing of babies, children, women and families to enhance the development of positive and life sustaining family units.”
For advice on working and volunteering overseas, and information on coming to work in the UK from abroad, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For other international enquiries please contact email@example.com