Karen Oakes on the need to re-establish the Partnership Forum.
"Building an effective health and social care system that delivers excellence and better outcomes for patients depends upon valuing, respecting and engaging with the health and social care workforce that delivers treatment and care. Effective partnership working between the DHSSPS and representatives of the workforce, including nurses, is essential.
"During the last Assembly mandate, however, the DHSSPS unilaterally abolished the Partnership Forum, a body that included organisations such as the RCN which represent the health and social care workforce. In our manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections on 5 May 2016, the RCN is calling for the Partnership Forum to be re-instated immediately.
"The results of the most recent HSC staff survey have highlighted a number of areas of concern for the RCN. It found that 71% of nurses work additional unpaid hours, whilst over one-third of nurses (34%) had not had an appraisal or performance review during the preceding year. Some 36% of nurses reported that they had suffered from work-related stress over the previous twelve months. Only around one-quarter (28%) of nurses believe that there is good communication between senior management and staff, whilst just over one-third (37%) feel satisfied with the extent to which their employing organisation values their work. Around one in five (21%) nurses reported that they had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from colleagues in the preceding twelve months. Less than two-thirds (61%) of nurses said that they would feel secure in raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice.
"Clearly, there are many issues to address. Re-establishing the Partnership Forum will enable staff representative and professional organisations such as the RCN to start working together with the DHSSPS and employers of nurses to build an effective workforce that is supported in its ultimate objective of delivering the very best health and social care system for the people of Northern Ireland."