2018 has been a memorable year for all of us in London and especially for me personally - becoming Regional Director in March this year was a true honour and privilege, as it continues to be.
Across London I know it’s been a busy and challenging year for many of you. Unprecedented financial pressures on services, staff shortages and an underfunded social care system have made delivering world class patient centred care – in hospitals, the community, schools, prisons, GP practices and all other settings – ever more trying. This was evident during the worst winter crisis on record earlier this year. In these tough times you all remain a credit to the profession.
Challenges and difficulties in 2018 haven’t only been limited to what happens in your workplaces, and it would be remiss of me not to reflect on issues within the RCN. The fallout from the NHS pay deal in July presented the organisation with questions to answer, and an opportunity to look inwards at its processes and the way it engages with you, the members. I am pleased that this renewal is now firmly underway. I want to be clear that in London, our door is always open to our members – going into the next year I want to hear your thoughts and ideas on everything from engagement to the campaigning you want to see in our region.
Looking away from the challenges, it’s equally vital that we reflect on our achievements. Our membership has grown to a whopping 60,214 and London members have been elected to the posts of President, Deputy President of the RCN, and Student Member of Council. Through our #NursingLondon campaign we have raised the profile of the work you do in London, winning support for the campaign from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan along the way.
We’ve recruited and trained lots of new reps, celebrated ‘Rising Stars’ from our black and minority ethnic nursing staff community, continued on with our Inclusion Solution initiative aimed at addressing inequality in the workplace, and proudly supported our student members in their Fund Our Future campaign.
As a region we have campaigned and lobbied on the issues affecting our members in their professional and personal lives. That includes challenging a chaotic London-wide sexual health service reconfiguration, speaking out against the doubling of the Immigration Health Surcharge and demanding fair treatment in the workplace for our black and minority ethnic nursing staff.
This year we also made affordable housing a priority issue for us as a region and have pushed back against a number of plans to sell NHS land for the building of homes out of the reach of our members. Going forwards into 2019 we will continue campaigning to ensure that surplus NHS land is used for the benefit of our members, not private developers.
I cannot write this message without paying tribute to our staff in the London region and the work they have done throughout the year. Over the past 12 months our staff have responded to 24,470 member enquiries, represented 1,800 members, and recovered £119,481.39 in employment compensation with an incredible £1,271,692 in personal injury payments recovered by our legal team. Fantastic work that makes me so proud to lead London.
Finally, let me send my gratitude to all of our members who will be working this festive season. The provision of health care doesn’t stop on the 25th of December or on New Year ’s Eve. It is the nursing family we have to thank for that.
2019 will be sure to throw up as many tests as 2018. What is important is that all of us, together, face them head on.
Wishing you all a peaceful, safe and fun Christmas