This month, our update falls on the same day as the second anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring COVID-19 a pandemic. It’s been a tough two years - and we thank each and every one of our members for the role they played during this pandemic, ultimately keeping patients as safe as we can each and every day, despite the challenges we have faced and continue to see moving forward.
We hope this update will give you some insight into the work of your elected Council members. Stay safe and remember to take some time for yourself.
I will start by sharing my update (East Midlands):
The past month has been interesting for me as I returned to my primary role as a Resuscitation Practitioner after having been redeployed to assist on the COVID Medicines Delivery Unit in my region. We are hoping to once again commence all the life-saving training that we deliver as a team to support all of our staff within my Trust. I strongly feel we need to attempt to get back on track as safely as possible with our usual day-to-day duties as a profession, but do they even look the same anymore after working through the pandemic? I suppose that is a question I will be finding the answer to this month. Within Council, we have also recently submitted our evidence to the PRB, demanding 5% above RPI, which is in line with our initial 12.5% following consultation with our members that we have fought for throughout the pay campaign over the last 18 months. I very much look forward to organising and planning campaigning events to fight alongside my colleagues once again in our plight for #FairPayForNursing and #SafeStaffingSavesLives.
BJ Waltho (Chair of Congress) gives us an insight into Congress planning for June 2022:
I was very fortunate to have a holiday at the beginning of February (postponed from last year) but, since returning, I have been very busy with preparation for Congress in June. Our first meeting was to pull together the learning and wellbeing events (formerly fringe events). There are a wide range of events planned and hope that there will be something that interests everyone. We’ve also agreed on our agenda to stimulate lots of debate and this will be available on the website soon. The Agenda Committee look forward to seeing as many members as possible in Glasgow.
Tracey Budding (RCN Deputy President) talks about some of the meetings she has been involved in over the last month:
Over the past month, I have been supporting my team by helping to cover staff shortages across the Gynaecology directorate due to poor staffing levels - which seem to be the norm these days. I travelled to London for February's Council meeting and it was great to see staff and fellow members face to face. I used my only day off that week to travel to the meeting, which shows how busy it has been at work. I am looking forward to more face to face meetings with members in my role as RCN Deputy President in the coming months.
Dr Denise Chaffer (RCN President) has been busy, and tells us some highlights:
I spoke at a recent event in London with Carol Popplestone and Pat Cullen highlighting reports that detail both the global and national critical shortage of nurses – globally the ICN recent reported that due to the ageing nursing workforce and growing COVID-19 effect, up to 13 million nurses will be needed to fill the. And the detailed significant issue with nursing retention, reporting that 21,800 nurses, midwives and nursing associates left register between July 2019 – June 2020, highlighting too much pressure, stress, poor mental health as well as negative workplace culture and concerns about staffing levels. These reports highlight the need to take urgent action on both fair pay and a focus on staff retention, in particular reduction of bullying and incivility, stress and assaults on staff and the need to work together to drive improvements in fair and learning cultures in the workplace.
Professor Rod Thomson (West Midlands) gives us his update:
Over the last month, the focus in the West Midlands has been on a combination of national and local issues. Continuing the campaigning on safe staffing and pay, but also challenging Trusts on topics such as car parking charges and equal pay for equal work. With the rising cost of fuel, there is also the lobbying of employers to review the reimbursement of staff who use their cars to visit patients. I was delighted to see that Paulette Hamilton, a local nurse has been elected as an MP for Birmingham Erdington following the sad death of Jack Dromey. I am sure Ms Hamilton will be a great MP and represent her constituents and nursing brilliantly. I wish her every success in her new role.
And finally, Richard Jones MBE (Wales) lets us know what has been happening this month:
RCN Wales has launched its Ward Manager Programme this month. We published a report supplying recommendations to the Welsh Government, framed around the Safe Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016, on the necessity of ward managers being supernumerary and supervisory. A short film was also released as part of the launch, which I had the pleasure of introducing at the virtual event. The film features ward manager members giving an insight into their role, and RCN Wales staff, including myself, outlining the programme’s aims. The event was a great success and a testament to the hard work behind the project.
I'd like to end with a plea to all RCN members, no matter where you live and work. Please help us secure a debate in the Wales Parliament on staffing levels by signing our petition.