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The Bournemouth Supremacy

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The sun came out for the nurses at this year’s RCN Congress in Bournemouth, so Beyond the Bedpan packed our bucket and spade and went to join them.

And the sands of Britain’s answer to Cannes were brightened unseasonably by the smiles of the politicians who came to woo the nursing vote.

Gordon Brown, Andrew Lansley and Nick Clegg took to the podium to respectively warm, respectful and ecstatic responses.

Clegg had to appeal for calm in the face of the repeated rounds of applause “If you don’t wait for the end of the line before clapping we’ll be here all night” he pleaded – his was the Bournemouth Supremacy.

But he wasn’t the only speaker attaining star status.

Zeba Arif, of the RCN’s UK stewards committee, was in danger of being carried from the auditorium on the shoulders of delegates after asking if he’d let nurses sack trust chief execs the same way the Lib Dems would allow voters to boot out MPs.

You didn’t have to be a psychic - and there’s more than one booked to perform at the Bournemouth International Centre when the nurses leave - to see that Lansley would have a tough act to follow a mere two hours after Clegg.

So the RCN top brass were at pains to stress that it was no slight on nurses that Cameron sent Lansley in his place, and he did well.

But members polled by afterwards felt Cameron unwise not to have shown up in person.

But it wasn’t all speeches, fringes and conference floor motions, especially once the students arrived on Tuesday.

And the RCN leadership found it was harder to leave the opening party at the Royal Bath Hotel than they thought, unshuttable windows a few floors above a live samba band meant an early night of undisturbed sleep wasn’t an option for the top brass.

Outgoing RCN president Maura Buchanan gamely returned to the party to face the music until the small hours.

Other senior members asked to be moved to different rooms, although in one case the replacement wasn’t big enough for her early-morning yoga routine.

The same party saw at least three delegates dressed as the Village People, although the cop was later cornered in the Gents and reportedly told “it’s not that kind of party”.

Revellers in the upper room were treated to a dance masterclass from Fleet Street’s finest, including a show-stopping turn from a centre-right broadsheet’s health reporter.

And we must say the RCN treated its press guests well, with obliging technical support chaps, healthy lunches and a dinner at an upmarket Italian restaurant.

The only point of complaint came from one of the female reporters at the state delegates had left a women’s bathroom in – but I’m sure handwash protocols were observed throughout.

But overall, a triumphant Congress, not least for Beyond the Bedpan, who lucked out on a top floor beach view and balcony hotel room.

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