The exhibition, which will be launched at RCN Scotland headquarters on Thursday 1 November, charts how nursing practice in relation to infection control has evolved over the past 100 years.
RCN Director Theresa Fyffe said:
“I am delighted that RCN Scotland is hosting this fascinating exhibition. Nurses have always been at the frontline of infection control from influenza outbreaks to the emergence of the AIDS virus and, more recently, the Ebola virus. The rise of antibiotic resistant disease strains presents a huge global challenge, and compels all of us who work in the healthcare sector to keep pace with innovations in infection control and prevention techniques.
“The RCN is starting an innovative education programme to reinvigorate infection control education across health and social care, to reduce the threat of antimicrobial resistance.”
Rose Gallagher, the RCN’s Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, added:
“Nursing and infection have a long standing history of association. During the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, nursing care was the only real treatment available for many - nurses washed and fed the sick, applied poultices and lotions, and monitored the patient’s temperature and breathing. Before this cholera and typhoid were rife, when living conditions of the poor were overcrowded and squalid and our public health system had not yet emerged. Florence Nightingale was the first nurse to link poor hygiene and sanitation to the spread of infectious disease.
“Some aspects of preventing infection have changed little over the past 100 years. Hygiene standards, such as regular hand washing and isolating infectious patients, are still a critical element of infection control nursing today. We are fortunate that today we have laboratories and antibiotics to help us. We must remember those nurses who historically risked their lives to care for the sick. We must never underestimate micro-organisms and the seriousness of infection they can bring. Influenza remains a constant threat even 100 years on.”
Speakers at the exhibition launch on 1 November include Rose Gallagher, RCN Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, Marguerite Dupree, Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow and Elaine Ross, Infection Control Manager at NHS Dumfries and Galloway.
Professor Dupree will speak about ‘From microbes to matrons: Infection control in British hospitals, c.1870-1970’, a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, for which she is a Principal Investigator. Elaine Ross will speak about managing infection in today’s NHS.