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Hospitals will provide free sanitary products to every patient who needs them

One in four women and girls have missed work or school due to not being able to afford sanitary products.

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The NHS in England and Wales has announced that hospital inpatients will be given free access to sanitary products.

The new requirement, which will be written into hospital contracts, will mean anyone receiving treatment will be able to request pads, pantyliners, and tampons when they need them.

As well as offering reassurance to anyone needing urgent care unexpectedly, the move also will help those who are in hospital long term, including mental health inpatients.

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A recent survey showed that at least one in four women and girls has had to miss work or school due to not being able to afford sanitary products.

The move comes as public bodies see pressure to tackle what has become known as “period poverty”.

Similar rules are expected to be introduced in Scotland.

‘Reducing the stigma’.

Tina Leslie, Founder of the charity Freedom4Girls, said: “This is a great initiative and is a fantastic step forward. NHS England have stepped up to the mark and been proactive in ensuring that hospital patients get tampons and sanitary towels.

“It is also breaking down barriers and reducing the stigma around periods. When women go into hospital it can be a worry to know what to do if you start your period, but now that worry is taken away as they know they will be catered for.”

Ruth May, England’s Chief Nurse, added: “Periods are part of life and too often we take it for granted that everyone has easy access to sanitary products.

“Period poverty affects an estimated one in 10 girls in this country and it can cause real anxiety when you can’t find the right product when you need it.

“Health problems are stressful enough, and this move will mean that the embarrassment, discomfort and anxiety finding yourself in hospital without adequate protection on your period will be a thing of the past.”

Helen Whyley, Director, RCN Wales said: “I’m delighted that Welsh Government have realised the importance of providing free sanitary products and that these will soon be available to all women in Welsh hospitals.

Going into hospital can be distressing and since it’s not always planned, it can be embarrassing for women who find themselves unprepared. In addition, having sanitary products available is vital for young girls experiencing period poverty.”

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Safe staffing and equality have been an issue since the start

Parliament passed the Nurses Registration Act in 1919.

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State registered nurse

A new exhibition charts the history of nursing from the Nurses Registration Act to modern-day.

In the centenary year of nurse registration, a new exhibition charts the history of the journey from the Nurses Registration Act in 1919 through to the modern-day.

Called ‘Wake up Slackers! The great nursing registration controversy’ the exhibition looks at the heated arguments around the official registration of nurses through the first registration of men, overseas nurses and one of the first nurses to be struck off.

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The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) was just three years old when registration first happened and securing this had been part of its founding ambitions.

The exhibition shows how many of the discussions and controversies of the past, including safe staffing, continue today and influence many of the discussions around modern nursing.

The Nurses Registration Act.

The exhibit contains artefacts from the RCN archive including invites to member meetings to discuss the College’s proposals for state registration, House of Commons Parliamentary debates during the year the Nurses Registration Act was passed in 1919, as well as drafts of legislation.

Opening during Black History Month, the exhibition also showcases the story of Eva Lowe, one of the first known black nurses on the register. Research shows how, despite being well qualified she was rejected many times before finding employment. It shows how she received vague and unsatisfactory excuses for her rejection, some based on false concern for her welfare.

As well as letters and documents from the RCN’s own archive, the exhibition will also feature items loaned from other collections such as that of the regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Are nurses born or made?

Frances Reed, Events and Exhibitions Co-ordinator at the Royal College of Nursing said: “It is incredible today to think that 100 years ago there were arguments about whether or not nurses should be registered.

“Today it seems unthinkable for somebody with such responsibility for the welfare of patients not to be registered and yet there were strident clashes over it, despite other health professions securing regulation well before nursing.

“The story of the first black nurse on the register, Eva Lowe is important to highlight too. There is little known about black nurses whose names are on the very early 1920s registers.  It is essential we recognise that their contribution to health care existed well before Windrush.

“It’s also particularly striking to see how hard Eva Lowe had to fight to become the first black nurse on the register, and how 100 years later racial inequalities still exist in the health and care system.

The exhibition runs at RCN HQ in Cavendish Square, London 17 October – 20 March 2020

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Education

One in six nursing associates drop out before qualifying, finds report

Despite this trainees showed “high levels of enthusiasm and commitment to the programme”.

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Only 65% of trainee nursing associates said they planned to work as a nursing associate once qualified.

An independent evaluation of the nursing associate role commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) has found that while there are “high levels of enthusiasm and commitment to the programme”, one in six nursing associates are dropping out before completing the course.

Attrition rates for trainee nursing associates fell slightly below that of student nurses, with 18% leaving before completing the course.

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While ill health and personal issues were some of the most common reasons for leaving the programme, nearly a quarter (23%) withdrew because they failed to meet the academic requirements of the programme – with numeracy skills cited as a key issue.

One trainee said they found the “attitudes towards the role and the negative feedback about Nursing Associates” challenging.

Only 65% of trainees said they intend to continue working as a nursing associate once qualified as the programme is often seen as a stepping stone to becoming a registered nursing.

Highlighting challenges.

Mark Radford, Chief Nursing Officer, Health Education England said the report “highlights some challenges that we must address to ensure that students such as ensuring the quality and oversight of placements, attrition and numeracy support.”

“We also recognise that further work and research is required to ensure that the profession is supported and utilised in the workforce of health and social care as part of the MDT. I am pleased to be able to report that we are in the process of identifying candidates to be considered as NA ambassadors across England.

Commenting on the report, Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said; “Having had the pleasure of meeting many nursing associates across the country, I am continually inspired by their enthusiasm and dedication for providing care and they should be very proud of the difference they make for the people they support.”

“I look forward to seeing how nursing associates continue to develop and be supported in their work, long into the future.”

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