Bernell Bussue has been Regional Director at RCN London since 2005. Bernell has a clinical background in cardio-thoracic and intensive care nursing and spent five years working in the Middle East earlier in his career, returning to the UK private sector and later to the NHS where he held senior positions managing surgery and orthopaedic units, before time as an Operations Manager in Child & Adolescent Mental Health.
As we approach Christmas and the end of 2016, I would like to take a moment, not only to wish you a happy and peaceful festive period, but to also look back with you on the Royal College of Nursing’s hundredth year and reflect on what we have achieved as well as what our hopes may be for the future.
In London, we have built a rich and diverse RCN membership that now sits at over 59,000. This is a fantastic achievement and a reminder of the strong collective voice we possess.
This year RCN London reported on the difficulties nurses face in securing affordable housing and transport and how spiralling costs are forcing some nurses to question life as a nurse in the capital, with some already leaving the city or leaving nursing altogether. In our report ‘Better Homes for Nurses’, we called upon policy makers, locally and nationally, to reintroduce and strengthen London’s key worker housing regulations, make new homes built on NHS land be offered first to low paid NHS staff and thirdly, offer discounted travel to London health staff. We will continue to push for progressive change in these areas so that nurses are not unfairly squeezed out of the profession they love.
We have also been fighting over nurses’ pay, demanding that the government “Scrap the Cap” on public sector pay increases whilst also pushing back and achieving important concessions in the student nurse bursary changes such as hardship funds for nurses from low income backgrounds. Unfortunately, in the last Autumn Statement of the year, the Chancellor refused to listen to our calls. However, be under no illusion that the issue of nurses’ pay remains at the very top of our agenda as we approach 2017.
June also saw Britain vote to leave the European Union. Its potential impact on the nursing profession and the Health Service was of immediate concern to us and we immediately condemned racist abuse directed at nursing staff from overseas. Brexit has caused high levels of uncertainty for nurses from Europe working in the UK and the areas of the NHS that greatly rely on their service. Without them it is unlikely that the NHS would be able to function. As the Brexit debate progresses and the shape of Britain’s exit from the European Union becomes clear, RCN London will be doing everything it can to support our brilliant European and other internationally recruited nurses through this uncertain time.
In our hundredth year, we have further strengthened our commitment to diversity, partnering with the Pride London Festival in June and campaigning for funds to erect a statute for Mary Seacole which went up in June at St Thomas’ hospital. The statue is well worth a visit as would be to apply for one of the Mary Seacole awards next year. For RCN London’s centenary celebration at City Hall, our incredible, diverse membership gathered together to see 2016 off with a bang.
So as Christmas time approaches, let us take the opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends but to also think of and pray for all the nurses and health care professionals working throughout the festive period. Christmas is not only a celebration by Christians world-wide of the birth of Christ but also a reminder that our 24/7 365 day a year, health service is only possible thanks to the dedication of its staff.
I look forward to having more of you involved in our campaigns as we enter 2017. As this year draws to an end, our continued mission is to speak out for nurses and the nursing profession. If you want to contact me about any of these issues please email email@example.com or tweet me @BernellRCN.
Wishing you a peaceful, blessed, and happy Christmas.
Bernell Bussue, SEN, RMN, RGN, DMS, MBA.