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Opinion

You can give a family the ultimate Christmas gift

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It costs nothing and only takes 15 minutes but you can ensure a family has the ultimate Christmas gift.

Christmas is a time we all want to spend with our family but each year thousands of people, sadly, don’t survive to spend it with there’s. In just 15 minutes you can ensure a family has the ultimate Christmas gift – Time with their loved ones.

You can help in three ways; register to become a blood donor, register to become an organ donor or signup to donate stem cells – or all three!

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Register to become a Blood Donor

Most people can give blood. You can give blood if you:

  • are fit and healthy
  • weigh between 7 stone 12 lbs and 25 stone, or 50kg and 160kg
  • are aged between 17 and 66 (or 70 if you have given blood before)
  • are over 70 and have given blood in the last two years

How often can I give blood?

Men can give blood every 12 weeks and women can give blood every 16 weeks.

Check you are able to give blood

You can check some of the most common eligibility questions we receive from blood donors.

If you have a health condition, have travelled out of the country recently, or if you answer “yes” to any question on your Donor Health Check questionnaire, please call 0300 123 23 23 or check the health & eligibility or travel section for further advice about whether this affects you donating blood.

The common reasons donors should check if they can give blood are:

  • if you are receiving medical or hospital treatment
  • if you are taking medication
  • after travelling outside of the UK
  • after having a tattoo or piercing
  • during and after pregnancy
  • if you feel ill
  • if you have cancer
  • after receiving blood, blood products or organs.

If you have any questions then contact us by completing a web form or call us on 0300 123 23 23.

Join the Organ Donation Register

Doctors will always prioritise saving your life – not someone else’s.

If you want to save lives, register to be a donor. It only takes two minutes, but it is important to tell your family you have done so. Don’t leave it too late to talk about organ donation. Many people don’t realise that their family’s support is needed for organ donation to go ahead.

Your family won’t know how you feel about organ donation unless you talk about it.

Here are 5 reasons to donate

  1. Organ donation saves lives but there is a shortage of donors. You can make an extraordinary difference
  2. One organ donor can save or transform up to nine lives
  3. Patients are dying while organs are going to waste
  4. Even if your organs can’t be used, you could still help others by donating sight
  5. Leave your family feeling proud that you saved lives

Joining the organ donation register takes no more than 2 minutes.

Register to donate Stem cells

If you’re between 16 – 30 and in good health, you can sign up to the Anthony Nolan register (you’ll stay on it until you turn 60). We’ll send you a swab pack in the post so that you can do a cheeky swab and send it back to us.

If you’re over 30, you can find out about the UK’s other registries and alternative ways to help here.

Whenever a patient with blood cancer or a blood disorder needs a lifesaving stem cell transplant, we search the register, looking for someone who’s a genetic match for that patient. If you’re a match, we’ll be in touch, and we’ll ask you to donate if you’re still healthy and happy to do so.

What does donating involve?

9 out of 10 people donate their stem cells via the bloodstream, in a straightforward process called peripheral blood stem cell collection.

1 in 10 donors will have their stem cells collected via the bone marrow itself, while under general anaesthetic.

Does it hurt to donate bone marrow or stem cells?

Short answer – no. We’ve spoken to countless donors who only have positive things to say about the experience, but you can read more about how it feels to donate stem cells or bone marrow here.

You can also click here to read just a few stories from people who’ve donated, and see some videos here.

How else can I help?

If you’re not eligible to join the register, don’t worry – there are plenty of other amazing ways you can support our work and help save lives. You could run a marathon, go skydiving, volunteer with us, or even lobby your local MP on behalf of people with blood cancer and blood disorders in desperate need. Take a look here for more details.

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Opinion

‘Student nurses graduate with £54k of debt, shouldn’t we pay them a wage instead?’

The Government claims students are “supernumerary” and “not contracted to provide nursing care”.

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student nurses walking

Student nurses are the unseen workforce and vital to patient care.

While I am pleased for the thousands of students who will soon be starting their journey to become a registered nurse, it comes with a stark reminder.

In November 2015, ministers announced the NHS Student Bursary and tuition fee payment would be cut in a plan to increase the number of available student places.

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Suffice to say, this hasn’t worked.

Instead, we have seen a consistent decline in the number of student nurses qualifying. Official figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show an overall decline in applications of 8% since 2015.

There is no debate that nurses need to be degree-level educated – but are student loans the best way to fill an ever-widing gap in our workforce?

The unseen workforce.

Student nurses are the unseen workforce and are sometimes vital to the delivery of safe, compassionate, person-centered care.

Completing over two-thousand hours of hand-on, direct clinical practice over three years – is it fair to ask them to accumulate up to £54,582 (plus 6.3% annual interest) of debt?

With a starting salary of £24,214, this is a debt the majority of nurses will never pay off.

The Government claims that because student nurses are “supernumerary” and “not contracted to provide nursing care” they need to be treated like all other higher education students.

While is it true that the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) mandates that student nurses are considered ‘supernumerary’ – how realistic is this expectation? We hear stories of student nurses, trainee nursing associates and healthcare support workers being used to fill nurse staffing gaps on an almost daily basis.

A self-perpetuating cycle.

With an estimated 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS alone, health and social care services in England are stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle.

Chronic under-investment in services has led to an increased demand on staff and subsequently affected recruitment and retention rates. Universities then fail to recruit enough nurses to meet the current demand and so the cycle continues.

The Royal College of Nursing has called on the Government to invest at least £1b per year into nursing education and come up with a long-term plan after its plan to increase numbers has failed to work.

Matching the proposed apprentice wage while student nurses are on placement would go some way towards alleviating the financial burden the government has placed on student nurses.

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Opinion

A fresh start?

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RCN Congress

I’m excited and I’m nervous. I qualified as a nurse just 15 months ago. I left a career in IT of “quite a few years” – I decided I needed a fresh start.

Now I’m sat on a train heading to my first ever RCN Congress. I’m a voting delegate and will be honoured to carry that responsibility for my branch.

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I’m also excited to finally be meeting people that I’ve solely (or mostly) only ever connected with online.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the various debates and resolutions. Listening to the speakers will further inform my views and I might even share a thought or two myself – fortunately speaking in public does not generally worry me (I’ll be the one with the ukulele).

A brief glance back to this time last year when certain “irregularities” were noticed by some members around the pay deal and communications regarding it.

The train of events that followed uncovered a number of poor practices regarding transparency and accountability and our current council were elected to address these.

I also mentioned I am nervous.

Recently, it has become clear that further “irregularities” have occurred – and questions will be asked.

Tomorrow morning is the Royal College of Nursing’s Annual General Meeting – an opportunity for members to ask questions. An opportunity for the council to demonstrate its commitment to openness, transparency, and accountability. An opportunity for a fresh start.

I genuinely hope the answers to the questions I raise are clear and dispel the concerns many of us have.

And if they don’t? Well, that’s why I’m nervous.

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