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The RCN's international work 

Welcome to the RCN's international webpages. The RCN Policy and International Department works closely with members through the RCN International Committee. Find out more about the committee and the RCN's international work (PDF 382 KB). You can also read in more detail more about the Policy and International Department in what we do.

Policy and international news

Take action for nursing in the European elections

With the European elections coming up on 22 May, the RCN has published a manifesto on its priorities in Europe for the next five years. Our members told us we should work on championing safe staffing levels, ensuring an appropriately educated and developed workforce, supporting access to health care services - particularly for vulnerable groups, and promoting healthier lifestyles. The manifesto can be used to lobby local MEP candidates and MEPs on issues important to nursing and patients.

Find out more about the RCN's European election manifesto 

Launch of partnership with Zambian Union of Nurses Organisations

The RCN and the Zambian Union of Nurses Organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, formalising a partnership to strengthen the professional function of both organisations. Paula Hancock from the RCN's International Committee joined a videoconference with Zambian and RCN colleagues on 13 January 2013, during which the memorandum was formally signed. Read more.

RCN International Committee Chair appointed Vice Chair of Commonwealth Nurses Federation

Chair of the RCN's International Committee and former head of RCN Council Professor Kath McCourt CBE FRCN, has been elected Vice President of the Commonwealth Nurses Federation (CNF).

Professor McCourt said: "As an active nurse and midwife I have had a long involvement with the Commonwealth delivering nursing leadership and education workshops, so I know how important this international work is. The CNF is a strong voice influencing change internationally and I am delighted that I will be able to undertake this important role."

Janet Davies and Lynne FeatherstoneRCN urges support for human resources for global health

The Royal College of Nursing contributed to a high-profile event on The Role of Health Workers in Improving the Health of Women and Girls in Low and Middle Income Countries.

RCN Senior International Adviser Susan Williams presented at a roundtable discussion on the Brain drain: current and future impact of the UK labour market, while Executive Director of Nursing and Service Delivery Janet Davies (pictured) spoke at an evening panel discussion at the House of Commons, where key recommendations were presented to DFID minister Lynne Featherstone (also pictured). Read the final report and recommendations (PDF 1.2 MB).

Participants at the event, organised by Action for Global Health and Health Poverty Action, advocated a set of eight recommendations for the UK to take forward at the World Health Organisation’s 3rd Global Forum on Human Resources for Health on 10-13 November in Brazil.

All present were urged to take action prior to this important global event to ensure that the UK Government and other key delegates give strengthening human resources for health the highest priority. 57 countries are currently experiencing a health worker crisis. 

Along with the RCN, Save the Children was a key partner in the 28 October event. The children’s charity is currently urging people to call on the International Development Secretary Justine Greening to support more health workers to combat the global deficit of 4 million. Find out more.

Sweden’s experience with shifting care out of hospitals: lessons for England

The latest international briefing from the RCN Policy and International Department examines the Swedish experience of moving care closer to patients’ homes and the integration agenda in Sweden.

It specifically outlines the integration models in Jönköping county council and Norrtälje municipality, and offers some learning opportunities for reforms in England.

Sweden was one of the first countries to recognise the limitations of hospital-delivered care and the importance of delivering community-based services, especially for older people.

The briefing complements the RCN’s larger piece of work, Moving care to the community: an international perspective (PDF 923KB)

Download the briefing: Sweden’s Experience with Shifting Care Out of Hospitals: Lessons for England (PDF 328 KB).

Report recommends review of mental health legislation in Commonwealth states

A report by the Commonwealth Health Professionals Alliance (CHPA) has made a number of recommendations for improving mental health legislation in the Commonwealth, and ensuring it conforms with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The RCN is a member of the Commonwealth Nurses Federation, which is in turn a member of the CHPA. The CPHA commissioned a review of mental health legislation in over forty Commonwealth member states, and the recommendations will be used to campaign for a review of legislation in many member states. Read the report and its summary on the CHPA website.

RCN publishes response to proposed safety and health policy framework

The RCN has responded to a European Commission consultation on a proposed EU occupational safety and health policy framework (OSH). The proposed framework is further to the previous EU OSH strategy which ran from 2008-12 and the response considers its impact and effectiveness. The RCN has emphasised the importance of a future EU occupational safety and health policy framework at EU level to ensure that nursing staff can work in safe working environments across the EU, that improved occupational health provision can be supported and that good practice can be shared at all levels. See our policy briefings for more information.

Moving care to the community: an international perspective

Moving care out of hospitals and closer to patients’ homes in the community has been a UK wide priority for over a decade; however despite the government’s commitment to boost community services, there is little evidence to show that the community nursing workforce is being invested in. We already know that the district nursing numbers have decreased over the last decade. The RCN has worked closely with our sister nursing organisations in Canada, Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark to learn from their experiences relating to this shift to the community.  This report sets out the current policies and initiative internationally on the movement of care out of hospital, outlines the impact of these reforms on the nursing workforce and highlight some international trends. 

Key recommendations include:

  • a whole-system approach 
  • towards service integration
  • prioritise the nursing workforce
  • balancing national uniformity with regional plurality.

The RCN supports the move to the community where it is clinically appropriate to do so, however to build a sustainable community workforce, robust workforce planned is needed and investments must be made to support, train and develop nurses to work in the community. To find out more, take a look at the policy briefings section of the RCN website.

Contact us

For advice on working and volunteering overseas, and information on coming to work in the UK from abroad, please contact web.enquiries@rcn.org.uk 

For other international enquiries please contact international@rcn.org.uk