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RCN Congress 2018: LIVE rolling news

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Keep up with everything happening at the RCN Congress 2018. Journalists from Nursing Times will be reporting live from Belfast throughout the conference

3.10pm – The AGM is preparing to vote on whether there will no increase in the RCN subscription rate during both 2018 and 2019. The idea being that, instead of voting each year on the rate, doing it for a longer period will allow more financial stability for planning purposes.

Any increase in later years after the two-year freeze would be “consulted” on with members before any change was made, notes Dave Dawes.

Agenda item 4: To authorise Council to set RCN member subscription fees for a further five years with the commitment that fees remain frozen for 2018 and 2019.

2.10pm – Deep into the RCN annual general meeting now. Honorary treasurer Dave Dawes reveals – perhaps somewhat surprisingly – that the college has a gender pay cap. The mean gap is 12.6% and the median gap is 13.7% – both in favour of men.

11.55am – Outgoing congress chair Stuart McKenzie takes to the lecturn, noting that “it is the most humbling role he has ever had and is ever likely to have”.

He gets a standing ovation, which is followed up by delegates dancing and clapping to the sounds of Tina Turna’s “You’re Simply the Best”.

RCN Congress 2018

Stuart McKenzie

Stuart McKenzie gives his final speech as congress chair

11.50am – That’s it, the debates are now over. We move to the section where senior RCN figures look back over the last few days.

11.35am – Last item for debate of this year’s congress is on pay for nurses in Northern Ireland. Graham Revie, introducing the resolution on behalf of the RCN UK Stewards Committee, states that nursing staff in Northern Ireland are paid less than any of their colleagues in the rest of the UK.

RCN Congress 2018

Graham Revie

The resolution on Northern Ireland pay

Fiona Devlin, from the RCN Northern Ireland branch, notes the difficulties of the political situation in the country and the limitations in decision making powers of civil servants.

Colleen White says she is “sick to the back teeth” of hearing about the lack of government in Northern Ireland and that action is needed on pay.

Fellow Northern Ireland nurse Philippa Whitham says her colleagues are “completely fed up” at the situation.

Maureen Dolan says a band 5 in Northern Ireland is better off joining an agency in order to pay the bills.

Margaret Devlin highlights that the “seeds” of the problem started when the government was still in place and that members should look to change things at the next election.

Mr Revie asks members from Northern Ireland to stand up and then signs off by asking the rest of congress to stand in support of their Northern Ireland colleagues.

Unsurprisingly, there is a unanimous vote in favour of the resolution. Referring to the colour of the voting cards being held up around the room, vice chair of congress BJ Waltho says: “It’s a really fitting colour for Ireland, it’s a sea of green.”

RCN Congress 2018

Northern Ireland RCN members

RCN members from Northern Ireland are asked to stand

Resolution 28E: Emergency Resolution – In the absence of the Northern Irish Assembly this College demands the immediate intervention of the Permanent Secretary in the Northern Ireland Department of Health to restore pay parity to Northern Irish nurses with nurses in other parts of the UK.

11.15am – After a lot of points of order, mostly about the lack of Northern Ireland political speakers and today’s Morecambe Bay report, congress chair Stuart McKenzie gets things back on track – but with a reduced time of 20 minutes for the next item

Lesley Pallett, from the UK Safety Reps Committee, introduces the item, noting that this year marks 100 years since the Spanish flu pandemic that swept across Europe in the wake of the First World War.

”The key question is why does the rate of uptake vary between different countries and different healthcare settings,” she says.

Rod Thompson, who is a public health director, urges delegates to “keep in mind that this is the highest threat to the UK”, when they are invited to have their flu jab.

Most of the speakers are infection control nurses or somehow involved in the vaccination programme, and encourage delegates to have the jab. However, two speakers in particular say that the vaccine made them ill and urge caution.

Matter for discussion 23: Flu vaccine – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses the low uptake within nursing of the seasonal influenza vaccine and the implications for patient care.

11am – Tom Bolger makes a few points of order. He asks that congress be kept informed on issues like today’s Morecambe Bay report, noting that the media knew about it ahead of time. He also asks about the lack of Northern Ireland political speakers.

Lastly, he highlights that RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies told Nursing Times this week during a press conference that the college would look into the question of misrepresentation over the pay deal.

Janet Davies responds by restating that she did not read the PSA’s report on Morecambe Bay before today and says her priority is “congress business”, rather than external reports.

10.50am – Nearly time to start again. We are powering through things this morning. Last item officially on the agenda is the matter for discussion below on influenza vaccination for clinical staff, but there may be a few emergency items first.

Matter for discussion 23: Flu vaccine – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses the low uptake within nursing of the seasonal influenza vaccine and the implications for patient care.

9.58am – Next item on the agenda is on the cost of social care, which has been submitted by the Greater Glasgow branch and introduced to congress by Audrey Simpson.

The resolution is unanimously passed. One speaker noted that carers are “working their backsides off to keep patients out of hospital”. 

Resolution 22: Social care – That this meeting of RCN Congress asks Council to lobby all political parties to work together to develop a fair and sustainable funding model for social care.

9.50am – Linda Bailey returns to the lecturn to call for the RCN to send a message of support to the Morecambe Bay families. She also claims the RCN council must have been briefed yesterday about the report. Janet Davies denies this was the case.

9.30am – The first debate is on community nursing and the pressures facing the sector. It is strongly introduced by Julie Green from the RCN District Nursing Forum.

Helen Brunton tells delegates that she recently transferred from a substantive post, because of the workload pressures, but joined the bank, as she wanted to carry on helping patients and loved the role.

She noted that “the pressure is immense on colleagues” and that they provided a ”lifeline” to many patients in the community. She also called on delegates to “assess referrals” to district nurses becasue some were ”ludicrous”.

Michael Brown suggests that the matter be turned into a resolution, given its importance. A vote subsequently turns it into a resolution.

Matter for discussion 21: Community nursingThat this meeting of RCN Congress considers the need for funding and resource to follow the patient so that community nursing capacity is able to meet increasing demand.

9.20am – As has been noted earlier in the event, this will be Stuart McKenzie’s last congress as its chair. Several speakers have already paid tribute to his work, with one noting that he will be a “hard act to follow”.

RCN Congress 2018

Stuart McKenzie

Stuart McKenzie

9.15am – Linda Bailey highlights to congress that the Professional Standards Authority had published a report criticising some of the way that the Nursing and Midwifery Council had handled the Morecambe Bay scandal.

  • Regulator let down families caught up in Morecambe Bay scandal – The NMC failed to listen to or properly investigate concerns about midwives at Furness General Hospital, according to a new report, which concludes the regulator’s handling of the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal was “inadequate” and “frequently incompetent”. The report into the regulator’s response to questions about midwives’ fitness to practise calls for urgent action to improve the way it deals with people who make complaints, after it found bereaved families were not taken seriously and treated with a lack of respect. The 84-page Lessons Learned Review – commissioned by health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt – also said the regulator must take immediate steps to improve “transparency” and be more open and honest about the way it works, including owning up to mistakes.

9.05am – Today’s report released by the RCN to coincide with congress is on the need to maintain continuing professional development for nurses.

Wednesday 16 May 2018, 9am – The last day of this year’s congress begins in Belfast. Several points of order and an emergency item vote to work through first before we get down to debating.

5.30pm – Congress ends for the day.

5.10pm – Next up is David Boyle from the Lancashire East branch, who introduces a discussion on independent sector nurses in the RCN.

Matter for discussion 20: NHS/Independent Sector – That this meeting of RCN Congress debates the need to re-balance RCN resources between NHS and Independent Sector members.

4.45pm – The Health Practitioners Committee has submitted the next item which, with a nod to the national “end PJ paralysis”, is about keeping patients out of bed and mobile, where possible, in order to facilitate their discharge.  

Matter for discussion 19: Bed rest impact – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses how the nursing family can reduce the risk of patients deconditioning whilst in hospital.

4.40pm – The results from the ballot on Brexit are as follows, reveals deputy chair of congress BJ Waltho.

  • For: 364
  • Against: 163
  • Abstainers: 57

As a result, the resolution calling on the RCN to lobby for a referendum on the final Brexit deal has been passed.

  • Congress delegates call for RCN to lobby for final vote on Brexit – Members of the Royal College of Nursing attending its annual conference in Belfast have today voted to support a referendum on the final Brexit deal. However, despite the vote result, RCN leaders have said they must consult more widely with members before they make it a formal position of the college.

3.35pm – And now, time for an emergency resolution. The question being asked is whether the college should belatedly drop its neutral stance on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, otherwise known as Brexit, due to its potential impact on nursing, especially the pipeline of overseas nurses.

Resolution 27E: Emergency Resolution – That this meeting of RCN Congress asks Council to show its strength by lobbying the government of the UK for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

3.10pm – Tracey Risebrow, from the RCN Suffolk branch, calls for the decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal use. Speakers highlight how the drug can help patients, especially those with cancer. The resolution is passed.

Resolution 18: Cannabis – That this meeting of RCN Congress requests Council to lobby governments across the UK for the decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal use.

2.20pm – The RCN Mental Health Forum starts the afternoon session with a debate on the need to boost awarenss of the risk of suicide among nursing staff themselves.

Lots of people wanting to speak on this one. Congress hears many examples of personal experience as well as calls for more to be done in terms of awareness.

Courtney Grant, who is from the Derby branch and works for Cygnet Care, says she and her colleagues tell patients that “it’s okay not to be okay”.

Meanwhile, Heather Henry notes that she uses the acronym BEAMS for helping support men who are feeling suicidal.  

Tim Coupland, who introduced the debate, flagged that it was taking place during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Matter for discussion 17: Suicide – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses ways to improve suicide awareness within nursing practice.

12.45pm – We break for lunch but not before congress chair Stuart McKenzie says that he can’t think of any other keynote speaker in his 20 years of coming to congress who has given as much “value” as Christie Watson just has. She duly gets another standing ovation from delegates.

12.04pm – Time for a keynote speaker now. It will be given by nurse and book author Christie Watson.

RCN Congress 2018

Christie Watson

Christie Watson

Her first novel – Tiny Sunbirds Far Away – won the Costa First Novel Award in 2011. Her latest book – The Langauge of Kindness – is a non-fiction account of her experiences as a nurse for 20 years, including at Great Ormond Street, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and St Mary’s hospitals.

“Nursing matters now more than ever before,” she tells delegates. She also acknowledges that she was not a “born nurse”, having considered many other careers first and actually fainting during her training at the sight of blood.

“Nursing is the most undervalued of all the professions,” she says, before adding: “Nursing is in big trouble.” She highlights that it is a global issue and not just an NHS issue.

Her core message on the need to value nursing rightly receives a standing ovation from congress.

RCN Congress 2018

Christie Watson

Christie Watson receives a standing ovation

11.40am – More on learning disabilities now with an emergency resolution introduced by Jonathan Beebee. There are so many people wanting to speak on the issue that congress chair Stuart McKenzie has reduced the speaking time to one minute.

The resolution is passed unanimously.

Resolution 26E: Emergency ResolutionThat this meeting of Congress asks RCN Council to call for urgent action to be taken to preserve the field of learning disability nursing.

Nursing Times has written a lot about this topic in recent weeks, with deputy news editor Nicola Merrifield revealing some concerning trends in learning disability nurse education:

10.55 – Coffee break.

10.30 – And now on to learning disabilities with James Blair from the North Central London Inner branch.

“Diagnostic overshadowing kills people,” says learning disability nurse Catriona McIntosh in the debate that follows.

Matter for discussion 16: Diagnostic overshadowing – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses diagnostic overshadowing and the role nurses can play in addressing this particularly for people with learning disabilities.

10am – Something with a more serious tone now. Alistair Grant, from the RCN Scotland board, introduces a resolution on the difficulties of nursing within the penal sector. He describes how nurses working in prisons and criminal justice setttings are “firefighting” in “these uniquely challenging environments”.

The resolution is passed “almost unanimously” after some passionate views aired by speakers in favour of it.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

The vote on the prison nursing resolution

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

Alistair Grant speaking on prison nursing

Resolution 15: Prison nursing – That this meeting of RCN Congress calls on Council to work with employers to improve the morale and working conditions of prison nursing staff across the UK.

9.30am – Michael Brown, former RCN council chair, tackles the subject of how the college treats its retired members. The topic was submitted by the Ayrshire & Arran branch.

The following discussion features some regulars at the congress mic, who are also now retired from nursing, including Ella Cullen, Tom Bolger, Brian Wilson and Zeba Arif.

Matter for discussion 14: Membership eligibility – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses whether it is right that full nurse membership of the RCN is available to individuals who do not remain on the NMC register.

9.05am – Congress starts the day by finishing off its debate on the role of robots in healthcare. As one would expect, the discussion often veers into less serious territory.

Tuesday 15 May 2018, 9am – The RCN has put out a warning today on drug use in prisons:

5.15pm – Gwen Vardigans from the North Yorkshire branch is on her feat and wearing a very ink T-shirt to introduce the next item, which is about the potential use of robots in health and social care.

Matter for discussion 13: Robots – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses the issues involved in the potential role of robots in health and social care.

4.45pm – Jeni Watts from the RCN Devon branch introduces the debate on the need to reverse cuts to health visitors and school nurses. She says: “Public health nursing is being forced to do more with less.”

Heather Henry urges public health nurses to demonstrate their “economic as well as social value”, as a “failure to do so will lead to decommissioning” of services by financially stretched local authorities.

The resolution is passed.

Resolution 12: Public health funding – That this meeting of RCN Congress calls on Council to lobby the UK Government to reverse the cuts in funding for Public Health Nurses.

Just to reiterate, the RCN published a report earlier today on the issue:

  • RCN warns of risks from fall in health visitor and school nurse numbers – Lack of investment in health visiting and school nursing services risks harming children’s health warns the Royal College of Nursing, which has again called for urgent action to address an ongoing decline in these specialist early intervention roles. A new analysis published by the RCN shows health visitor and school nurse numbers have continued to drop and reveals those working in the field are under increasing strain, working extra hours and unable to take breaks.

4.30pm – Former RCN president Moira Buchanan takes to the mic to highlight how particularly impressed she has been with the “contribution” made at congress by student members this year and that, as a reuslt, nursing is hopefully in “safe hands” for the future.

She also notes that this is her 36th consecutive year at RCN congress, which draws murmurs of approval from the massed ranks of delegates.

3.35pm – Edward Freshwater from the RCN’s Mental Health Forum talks eloquently on the need to establish what safe staffing levels should look like in mental health settings.

Becky Hoskins, who works on a male inpatient ward, uses real-life scenarios to explain how patient care suffers when staffing levels are “safe” but at the minimum level. 

The resolution is subsequently passed by congress.

Resolution 11: Mental health staffing – That this meeting of RCN Congress calls on Council to commission research into therapeutic staffing levels for mental health nursing.

3pm – We move onto a resolution debate about the harassment facing nurses and other staff. The resolution, brought by South Birmingham branch, touches on some of the points made in an earlier discussion on cameras. It is introduced by Student Nursing Times Award winner Travis Norton.

A standing ovasion follows a powerful turn at the mic from Beverley Baker from the Midlands, who calls for “zero tolerance” of racism and other types of harassment from patients and the general public. She recalled an example where a patient had told her he did want to be served a meal by a black person.

Evaline Omondi had previously recounted a situation where a patient had refused to be treated by her – giving no reason – and that, to her surprise and distress, her manager had then moved her to a different bay. 

Meanwhile, Carmel O’Boyle highlights harassment through “easily-spread negativity on social media”, noting a personal example where a patient had criticised her. 

Kevin Crimmons calls on colleagues to support each other when examples of harassment, such as that cited by Ms Omondi, takes place.

The resolution is carried unanimously, prompting a ruond of applause.

“An excellent debate and an excellent outcome,” notes congress chair Stuart McKenzie.

Resolution 10: Harassment – That this meeting of RCN Congress asks Council to take action to ensure that all Health Care Providers demonstrate a commitment to zero tolerance of third party harassment.

2.15pm – The first debate after lunch sends a clear message to the government on child refugees. The resolution, put by North Yorkshire branch, is carried following some passionate speeches urging delegates to support it.

Some of the speakers, talking from personal experience, highlighted heart-rending examples of the dangers facing unaccompanied children trying to reach the UK.

Resolution 9: Child refugees – That this meeting of RCN Congress demands that the UK Government abides by the ‘Dubs Amendment’ to enable unaccompanied refugee children to settle in the UK.

12.30pm – We finally move on to an emergency item submitted by the South East London branch on the fact that bursaries are bing scrapped in England but not necessarily in other parts of the UK. Daniel Gooding puts the case at the lecturn.

Not surprisingly, student after student then queues to criticise the government’s scrapping of the bursary.

Matter for discussion 25E: Emergency Resolution – At the 50th Anniversary of Student Membership within the RCN, this meeting of RCN Congress discusses the disparities across the UK in undergraduate and postgraduate nurse education funding.

11.45am – Lots of strong views aired on the issue of men in nursing. Council now trying to decide whether it still wants to vote on the resolution, given some of the discussion about its wording.

“The debate was excellent,” says congress chair Stuart McKenzie but suggests to congress that the resolution not be voted on and that the issue be referred directly to the RCN council.

In contrast, Jason Warriner calls for the vote on the resolution to go ahead and says: “It may be controversial but this is what we’re here for.”

Congress decides that it does want to vote! After several procedural issues, congress eventually votes against the resolution.

11.10am – Health secretary for Wales Vaughan Gething is attending congress today. RCN council chair Maria Trewern and president Cecilia Anim are currently getting a photo taken with him by RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly. He’s pretty much the only politician here this week, from what I understand.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

‘Real time’ monitoring of HCAIs in Welsh hospitals

Vaughan Gething

10am – Keynote speech time. Will Hutton talks about the current economic and political outlook for the UK, what effect that might have on the NHS and the dangers of underfunding the health service. Lots of focus on Brexit and its impact.

Two members later criticise the choice of keynote speaker, claiming that it was not politically balanced.

9.55am – Next item is from the Belfast branch of the RCN and at gender stereotypes around nursing as a profession. One speaker questions why men who are nurses are often described with the prefix of “male”. 

We are using outdated terms and have battled against the term “male nurse”. We need a recruitment strategy that includes everyone, not just aimed at men, says one speaker. 

Charlie Fairhead from Casualty gets mentioned several times – not necessarily in a positive light.

Linda Bailey hits out at the college itself for sending out paper nurse hats to celebrate International Nurses’ Day. She calls for a campaign to recruit more nurses, regardless of gender, religion or nationality.

Resolution 8: Male nurses – That this meeting of RCN Congress asks Council to develop and promote a strategy to recruit more men into the nursing profession.

9.30am – The RCN has published a hard-hitting report today on public health nursing, specifically health visitors and school nurses, ahead of a debate later today on the issue at the conference. It has also published a report on sexual healthcare and a new protocol for working with animals in healthcare.

  • RCN warns of risks from fall in health visitor and school nurse numbers – Lack of investment in health visiting and school nursing services risks harming children’s health warns the Royal College of Nursing, which has again called for urgent action to address an ongoing decline in these specialist early intervention roles. A new analysis published by the RCN shows health visitor and school nurse numbers have continued to drop and reveals those working in the field are under increasing strain, working extra hours and unable to take breaks.
  • Short-staffed sexual health clinics ‘turning public away as test levels fall’ – Staffing shortages in sexual health clinics have led to a drop in testing, as hard-pressed nurses admit they have been forced to turn people away, shows a new report from the Royal College of Nursing. The report includes the findings from a survey of more than 600 nurses working in the field.
  • Pioneering guidance launched on use of dogs in healthcare settings – The Royal College of Nursing has launched the first ever nationwide protocol for working with animals in healthcare, in a bid to encourage more hospitals to explore the benefits of animal therapy.

Monday 14 May 2018, 9.20am – We are underway again in the main debating chamber. The first item is the controverial issue of whether nurses should wear cameras or not, in the same way that some police officers do already. The matter for discussion was introduced by the RCN Suffolk branch.

Some speakers highlighting how such a move could affect the therapeutic relationship, especially in mental health settings and also accident and emergency departments. The majority seemed to be speaking against the idea.

Matter for discussion 7: Body cameras – This meeting of RCN Congress discusses whether the use of body cameras would improve safety for staff and patients.

5.15pm – Onto the next item, which is about the ”draconian” practice of stopping staff have water bottles near them. The matter for discussion is introduced by Alison Upton from the UK Safety Reps Committee.

Ms Upton says if you are thirsty enough to need a drink at RCN Congress, why would this be any different when you are more physically active on the ward?

“We are nures and health assistants, we know how to keep things tidy,” says Cara Large, who works in an intensive care unit where staff are allowed to have water bottles and also to do tea rounds.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

Hydration debate

Matter for discussion 6: HydrationThat this meeting of RCN Congress discusses how we challenge the draconian practice of staff not being allowed water bottles in clinical settings.

4.45pm – And now we turn to the subject of toileting, thanks to the RCN Coverntry and Warwickshire branch. Toilet gags aplenty from speakers on this one, leading to the “motion” subsequently being “passed”.

Resolution 5: Public toilets – That this meeting of RCN Congress calls on the RCN to campaign for local government to provide accessible public toilets catering for a broad range of needs.

4.30pm – Back after the latest break. Following an often passionate debate, delegates vote in favour of waiving healthcare surcharges for overseas nurses.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

The main auditorium, Belfast Waterfront

3.40pm – Evaline Omondi introduces the next agenda item, which is a resolution on overseas nurses. No time to do more than hear a couple of speakers though before the next break. Voting to come later.

Resolution 4: Overseas nursesThat this meeting of RCN Congress calls on council to demand that the UK government urgently waive the immigration health surcharge fees for nurses on workpermits and their departments.

The subject of this resolution was highlighted earlier in the day in a story by Nursing Times: 

  • Government urged to waive healthcare surcharges for overseas nurses – Nurses from overseas should be exempt from extra healthcare charges, says the Royal College of Nursing, which has warned that the policy is “tearing families apart”. Under current immigration policy, people who come to work in the UK from outside the European Economic Area must pay a healthcare surcharge that has left some nurses facing bills of several thousand pounds.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

The stage at RCN Congress 2018

3.20pm – After a show of hands, the previous matter for discussion is now being turned into a resolution and is debated as such. It is subsequently passed by congress. The agreed wording is as follows:

Resolution 3: Limited companies – That this meeting of RCN Congress condemns and deplores the transfer of NHs staff to limited companies.

3pm – Next up we are back to business of debates, starting with the issue of NHS organisations increasingly turning to external companies to provide some of their estates and facilities departments, with former health service staff being transferred to the private sector in the process.

A matter for discussion has been submitted by RCN North Yorkshire branch.

Matter for Discussion 3: Limited companies – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses the long term effects of NHS trusts converting services into limited companies to reduce the costs of their workforce.

2.15pm – The afternoon session begins with the RCN council’s report to congress, looking back at the college’s work over the last 12 months.

12.35pm – And now we break for lunch, but not before congress chair Stuart McKenzie asks delegates to give Nursing Times editor Jenni Middleton a round of applause for being a “critical friend” to the college and for her role in explaining nursing issues in a clear and easy to understand way.

Ms Middleton is attending her last congress before she leaves Nursing Times at the end of this month after seven years as editor.

11.55am – RCN chief execuitve and general secretary Janet Davies comes to the lecturn. Her keynote speech covers a wide range of issues, focusing on pay, education and workforce shortages.

She also touches on the recent political debate around the Windrush generation – which gets her a round of applause. Still more applause comes after she highlights the issue of overseas nurses being subjected to surcharges for receiving healthcare in the UK, which she says is unfair and warns could also affect nurses from EU countries in the wake of Brexit. 

Royal College of Nursing

Janet Davies

Janet Davies speaking at RCN Congress 2018

Royal College of Nursing

Janet Davies

Janet Davies at RCN Congress 2018

On the pay deal, she says: “It is the best we could achieve at this time. And it’s for these reasons that the new Trade Union Committee of the RCN, your elected members, is recommending that you vote in favour in the remaining three weeks.”

On bursaries for student nurses, she says: “I give you my word, we will fight the government tooth and nail to maintain the funding for our post-grad students and bring in a new scheme of grants to support undergraduates again too.”

On new nursing education standards, she says: “The final standards which were approved last month will ensure that nurse education responds to the changing population and that nurses continue to provide that high standard of care.”

On safe staffing, she says: “The college will put into action the will of a previous congress by launching a new campaign to demand, for every part of the UK, safe staffing levels and accountability set in law.”

On the Windrush generation, she says: “We must never forget what all our colleagues have done for us – we could never have managed without them, and we continue to depend on them.”

  • RCN leader ‘demands’ safe staffing legislation across UK in speech The Royal College of Nursing is to demand safe nurse staffing legislation in all parts of the UK in a new campaign it will launch this autumn, the organisation’s chief executive has announced. As part of her keynote speech today at the RCN’s annual congress in Belfast, Janet Davies attacked “short-sighted” cost-cutting measures that had led to staff shortages, and a failure by politicians to listen to the warnings of nurses.
  • Safe staffing laws campaign ‘will consider nurse-to-patient ratios’ – The Royal College of Nursing will look at the possibility of including nurse-to-patient ratios in its campaign for staffing legislation but will not necessarily call for all parts of the UK to adopt the same laws, its chief executive has revealed.
  • RCN to look into claims that it has ‘misrepresented’ NHS pay deal – The Royal College of Nursing’s leader has said the organisation will look into concerns about the way the NHS pay deal has been communicated to its members, following claims that the union has “misrepresented” the offer.

11.50am After a really good discussion on pay, with speakers on both sides of the debate, it is time for the first keynote speaker of congress.

11.20am – An emergency matter for discussion is currently being introduced by former RCN council chair Michael Brown. It’s on pay and the deal that is currently being consulted on. I’m expecting some strong opinions to be aired on this.

Matter for Discussion 24E: Emergency resolution – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses the success of our summer of acivisim, the subsequent pay offer and actions therafter.

Related stories on the pay deal:

Jason Warriner, himself a former congress chair, criticises how pay negotiators and nurses who have said they have voted in favour of the deal have been attacked on social media. He described it as “cyber bullying”.

Danielle Tiplady, from Inner North East London branch, criticises how the college has presented the deal, highlighting the RCN’s suggestions that some people will get a 29% increase through incremental changes on top of the 6.5% rise over three years and that rejecting the deal would lead to 1% again, which she said felt like a “threat”.

She also said that members who were against the deal had felt they had been “left out in the cold” and made to feel unwelcome. A round of applause follows.

Geoff Earl too speaks with passion about how he has been made to feel as someone who is against the deal, making reference to suggestions that an RCN official said those who voted to reject were  ”delusional”.

Ismalia de Sousa says she has noted yet voted on the deal due to the number of unanswered questions that remain about it for her.

Samuel Newman notes that the deal is fully funded by the government and says rejecting the deal “will not have a positive outcome for anyone”. “We should vote to accept the deal,” he says, even if it means doing so through “gritted teeth”.

Cara Large highlights the confusion around some of the claims made in announcements on the deal. She especially flagged the fact that the basic 6.5% offer was talked about at the same time as increment rises that could come about from band restructuring under the proposals.

“This is the start, not the end”, says Neil Thompson on the process of improving pay for nurses and other NHS staff.

11am – Delegates starting to drift back in after the first break of the day and probably a much needed coffee.

RCN Congress 2018



Thanks very much to Nursing Times deputy news editor Nicola for supplying mine so I can keep th live blog rolling.

  • Pay deal must be extended to ‘all sectors providing NHS services’ – The Royal College of Nursing has written to the government calling for the pay proposals currently being consulted on by NHS staff to be extended to those working in social care, the private sector and primary care. The RCN has written to health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt calling on him to consider extending the deal to all nurses providing NHS services, regardless of their employer.

10.08am – Colleen White from the Northern Ireland branch introduces the next item, a matter for discussion on staff substitution. She relates her own personal experience of being asked to work a bank shift on a ward for which she did not have the appropriate skills. She refused, while a colleague did not and had a very tough evening.

Matter for discussion 2: Staff substitution – That this meeting of RCN Congress discusses the casual redeployment of staff within the healthcare system to work in areas of unknown expertise.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

Staff substitution matter for discussion

9.40am – First resolution debate of the day is on recruitment and retention, which has been submitted by the RCN UK Stewards Committee.

Resolution 1: Recruitment and retention – That this meeting of RCN Congress deplores and condemns the UK government’s failure to recognise the impact of their policies on the recruitment and retention of registered nurses, and emands credible action and engagement with the RCN.

During the debate, speakers discuss the impact of the bursary being scrapped in England at undergradaute and now postgraduate level, as well as funding of posts and pay levels.

Ann Maccrimmon says trusts and boards are having difficulty recruiting senior board-level nurses – bad for the profession’s voice. Turnover is losing us leadership skills and experience, and causing instability.

Mike Travers said Brexit was the most devastating thing that will happen to this health service.

The resolution is carried “almost unanimously”, says Congress chair Stuart McKenzie after voting.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

Resolution on recruitment and retention

9.15am – Next up with his introductions is chair of congress Stuart McKenzie, who gives an outline of how congress will run.

Royal College of Nursing

Stuart McKenzie

RCN Congress chair Stuart McKenzie

Sunday 13 May 2018, 9am – Maria Trewern, chair of the RCN council, gets proceedings underway by introducing delegates to council members.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN chair Maria Trewern

Maria Trewern

  • Nursing ‘on the brink’ because of staff shortages, warns RCN report – Basic nursing care like helping people go to the toilet, providing pain relief and preventing pressure ulcers is not getting done, because of staffing shortages, warn nurses. Nursing staff have also revealed that workforce shortages are having a damaging impact on their own physical and mental health in a new report by the Royal College of Nursing.

6.30pm – As usual, a series of awards were given out during the opening ceremony, including the RCN Award of Merit, RCN Fellowships and RCN Foundation Awards.

  • The RCN Award of Merit was given to: Dr Claire Chatterton, Margaret Graham, Dr Sheila Hardy, Jeanette Jones, Isobel Mason, Mary Shaw and Sylvia Simmons.
  • RCN Fellowships were given to: Professor Dame Hilary Chapman, Yvonne Coghill OBE, Jessica Davidson and Professor Margaret Ann Gallagher.
  • RCN Foundation awards went to Abigail Bird, Julianne Lee, Stephanie McDowell and Siobhan O’Connor.

Professor Gallagher said: “It is an honour to receive this recognition from my profession. With increased media attention, demographic changes and public expectations, our health and social care system is facing increased scrutiny and challenges.

“It is critical that care practitioners appreciate the importance of ethics in care and have time, space, education and positive organisational cultures to sustain good care,” she said. ”Our work helps fill the gaps in this area and provides guidance to promote ethical care-giving.”

Ms Davidson said: “In becoming a fellow, I hope to ameliorate the professional experience of nurses within justice and forensic nursing, and help them to have the most powerful and authentic experience that they can in their careers. Through this we may be able to help our patients to become well, which is the aim of a nurse.”

5.30pm – Chair of RCN council Maria Trewern gets RCN Congress 2018 underway. The opening ceremony featured a speech by RCN president Cecilia Anim, the Lord-Lieutenant for Belfast Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, a display of Irish dancing and awards for RCN members.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

Maria Trewern at the opening ceremony

Saturday 12 May 2018, 5pm – Here we go. I’ve got my pass for congress and I’m about to go into the main auditorium for the opening ceremony.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

Conference badge

  • Government urged to waive healthcare surcharges for overseas nurses – Nurses from overseas should be exempt from extra healthcare charges, says the Royal College of Nursing, which has warned that the policy is “tearing families apart”. Under current immigration policy, people who come to work in the UK from outside the European Economic Area must pay a healthcare surcharge that has left some nurses facing bills of several thousand pounds.

Royal College of Nursing


The River Lagan flows past the conference centre in Belfast

In the run-up to RCN Congress, Janet Davies spoke to Nursing Times about key issues affecting nursing and her priorities.

  • Exclusive: ‘Critical time’ for nurse workforce, warns RCN leader – Nursing workforce shortages remain the “biggest issue” for the profession right now, with the risk of another situation like that at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust having never gone away, the leader of the Royal College of Nursing has warned. RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said nurse staffing shortages were as “bad” as she remembered them ever having been before.

Nursing Times journalists will be reporting live from the Royal College of Nursing’s annual congress in Belfast. We’ll be here until the end on Wednesday evening. Come and say hello or follow us on Twitter: @nursingtimesed @steveJFord @nic_merrifield

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