Welcome to the RCN Policy and International Department pages. For information on our role, go to What we do.
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RCN welcomes full implementation of regulations to protect nursing staff
The Royal College of Nursing has welcomed the implementation of regulations coming 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.”
An RCN factsheet: Specialist nursing in the UK
The RCN has received a lot of international interest with regards to specialist nursing in the UK and so has produced a factsheet on specialist nursing roles. The factsheet gives a brief overview on types of specialist nursing and specifically addresses issues like regulation, education, scope of practice and evidence that demonstrates the value of specialist nurses. You can read the factsheet on the policy briefing section of the RCN website.
RCN releases position statement on draft EU Medical Devices regulations
The RCN have published a position statement on the new EU Medical Device regulations which were proposed in September 2012. The draft regulations aim to provide “a suitable, robust, transparent and sustainable regulatory framework” for medical and in vitro diagnostic devices and are intended to update three existing directives which were agreed in the 1990s. The RCN’s position statement on the regulations will also feed into their response to the current Medical and Healthcare products Agency consultation on the UK position. Find out more by viewing the position statement on the policy briefings section of the RCN website.
Government consultation on balance of EU and UK competences and health
The UK government is consulting on the impact of the European Union on many sectors in the UK, including health. The consultations from different government departments will take place over a period of two years and will be completed before the next general election, and health is one of the first. The RCN will be responding in relation to EU competences in health and their impact on nursing.
An RCN briefing about the types of issues covered in the Department of Health’s (DH) call for evidence can be found on the briefings section of the RCN website.
We are interested in hearing from members about evidence of their own experience in the public health and health service areas highlighted in the briefing but also whether there are any aspects of nursing that have been overlooked in the DH consultation. Please email any comments to email@example.com by 8 February 2013.
Additionally a short questionnaire for RCN members is available to complete.
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