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Opinion

Healthcare Leader tells Nurses ‘no one likes a whinger’

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The controversial article published by Nursing in Practice tells nurses ‘If you can’t be enthusiastic, do something else’.

George Coxon’s article ‘If you can’t be enthusiastic, do something else‘ calls for nurses who are negative about the current state of the NHS to leave the profession despite 27% more nurses leaving the Nursing and Midwifery register than joining.

In the article Coxon says; “It may be controversial but when talking about the current plight of our profession, I always come back one thing: no one likes a whinger“.

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Adding that nurses need to have self-respect and not get “maudlin about Brexit, about revalidation, about pressure and workload“.

He then goes on to quote journalist Christina Patterson in her 2011 talk ‘Care to be Nurse’ by saying; “If you can’t get beyond feeling negative, do something else“.

According to the Nursing in Practice website, Coxon is a qualified mental health nurse, a member of the Nursing In Practice advisory board, UK Chair of the Mental Health Nurse Association, chair of Devon Care Kite Mark and the owner of Pottles Court and Summercourt Care Homes.

But, a recent report from the Royal College of Nursing demonstrates that healthcare professionals have a right to be angry when the majority feel the ongoing chronic staffing shortage is compromising the care given to patients.

The report also reveals that 7 in 10 nurses in England said their last daytime shift exceeded NICE guidelines and a quarter reported shifts with 14 or more patients per nurse.

Finally, with half of all respondents saying no action was taken when they raised concerns about staffing levels, nurses are not ‘whinging’ they are striving to have their concerns heard but are instead ignored and chronically overworked and undervalued.

As a healthcare leader, Coxon’s comments are not only irresponsible but also dangerous. We need to be valuing our ever-shrinking workforce and listening to their concerns at every step rather than trying to silence them.

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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