It was a busy week of early morning seminars and late night celebrations last week.
On Tuesday The Florence Nightingale School of Midwifery and Nursing invited Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to speak about Protecting the public through proactive regulation: new dawn for the NMC.
“He’s got his work cut out for him here,” said one nurse I sat next to when she read the title on his PowerPoint slide.
And Dickon certainly knows that. He gave a comprehensive introduction to the NMC, detailing how hard it was to protect the public. Not least because the public don’t help themselves, sending some rather spurious claims about nurses’ fitness to practice to swell the NMC’s postbag, which turns up bulging every day at its headquarters.
He said that while drugs and alcohol issues are playing a part in many complaints – typically 15 cases a week – the NMC is taking a tough line on this widespread issue, and mirroring the stance of the General Medical Council, to investigate anyone with a drug or alcohol conviction.
But he said that what typically goes wrong is registrants not treating patients as individuals or making them a priority.
He picked up on this theme not 24 hours later at the launch of the NMC’s films highlighting the importance of safeguarding adults. The films showed three cases – an elderly man in a nursing home, a pregnant domestic abuse case and a young girl admitted to hospital with a deteriorating mental state. For more details on these, see nursingtimes.net/safeguarding. It makes for chilling viewing, and shows that nurses can be neglectful and have a huge negative impact on their patients’ lives, wellbeing and recovery – often without meaning to and without being bad or malicious people. Food for thought.
But I finish with nurses of excellence. I was lucky enough to be one of the 130 guests invited to community nursing charity The Queen’s Nursing Institute’s autumn award ceremony at the Lansdowne Club in London on Tuesday.
27 new Queen’s Nurses received the title, swelling the ranks of this special club to 130, and 23 Fund for Innovation project leaders also received their awards. The nurses represented a wide range of specialisms in primary care all over the country.
Certificates and Queen’s Nurse badges were presented by guest of honour Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes – who clearly saw as little of his home as I did mine last week.
“You have stepped over the line from being a nurse to being a Queen’s nurse. What an accolade,” he told the assembled group of nurses. “I don’t think any of us became a nurse to be a hero,” he said. “But today is a moment to pause and remember why you became a nurse in the first place … to offer compassion and high-quality care.”
Rosemary Cook, director of QNI, also congratulated the new Queen’s nurses with equal pride. “Receiving the title is an achievement and responsibility,” she said. “You do your work now not only in your name but in ours. Nurses in the community have a greater freedom to assess, diagnose, treat and prescribe, but with these opportunities come new challenges, which we expect you to rise to.”
And having met some of those nurses, it is clear it is a challenge they are more than capable of meeting. Congratulations for proving that being the best is still something worth being, and wear your Queen’s Nurses’ badge with pride.