From discussing the uptake of the flu jab, to staffing levels in mental health nursing, to having parity of esteem for those with learning disabilities and decriminalising cannabis for medicinal use, each item showcases that patients are at the heart of what we do and pushing to improve care standards is what drives us as a profession.
The event kicks off with an item about the dwindling nurse workforce and the failure of the Government to recruit and retain registered nurses. I’m expecting that to be lively, especially as it only addresses those registered. But that’s what we want. We want to have those conversations. It’s a weighty debate and it’ll push us into determining where we stand on the issue.
But the controversy doesn’t end there. On the first day in Belfast we’ll be scrutinising the impact of redeploying staff into work areas their unfamiliar with, the fees overseas staff have to pay to receive NHS care themselves and the need for staff to be allowed water bottles in clinical areas.
I’m hoping that one piques the interest of the media, and that through covering the debate the sacrifices we make to care for patients are exposed. There would be uproar if patients were denied access to water, for example, but we often go hours without a drink. Where does it end? Not going to the toilet? Getting kidney stones? Becoming patients ourselves?
The second day of Congress looks set to be no less exciting with a discussion about using body cameras to improve staff safety and a debate about how to recruit more men into nursing. The item about the role of robots in health care will be interesting and the one on whether people no longer on the NMC register should remain full members of the RCN, is sure to attract strong views.
And so the event goes on, with agenda items that will the spark the interest of every member of the nursing workforce, no matter what their specialty, where they live or what level they’re at.
Coming to Congress enlivens the spirit. It’s where we can feel at one, united by our passion and desire to get things done. If you’ve never been then I’d urge you to try it out. It’s free to attend and when you’ve been once, you’ll not look back.