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Opinion

Nurse set for the “incredible challenge” of climbing Mount Snowdon in fancy dress

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Joan Pons Laplana
Joan Pons Laplana

A nurse is preparing to tackle the formidable Mount Snowdon in a fancy dress challenge.

Joan Pons Laplana is preparing to climb Mount Snowdon in fancy dress on Saturday 13th October fundraising for the Cavell Nurses’ Trust.

But Joan isn’t just doing climbing Mount Snowdon in one costume, he is going to make several changes along the way and you can tweet Joan with your outfit suggestions.  To celebrate his arrival at the top of Mount Snowdon he is prepared to wear a special outfit that people will be able to choose by bidding in an auction at the end of September.

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On his JustGiving page, Joan says; “Following the disappointment from the nonexistent pay rise, more and more Nurses, Midwives and HCA are struggling to make ends meet.  Once again I have set up myself an incredible challenge to raise awareness and much-needed cash for Cavell Trust.

“But as always my fundraising comes with a twist. I like to do things differently. After a lot of deliberation and raising a few health and safety concerns amongst the team I have decided to do my 10k climbing Mount Snowdown in a fancy dress. But not just one fancy dress. I will do 10 different costumes. But the fun part is that you can decide which costume I should wear.”

Not the first time…

Two years ago, Joan did a Tweetathon, running the Liverpool marathon while tweeting at the same time. Last year, Joan hopped 10km around Sheffield breaking his coccyx bone in the process. His dedication to the cause cannot be questioned.

The Cavell Nurses’ Trust provides support for UK nurses, midwives, and healthcare assistants, both working and retired, when they’re suffering personal or financial hardship – often because of illness, disability, domestic abuse and the effects of older age.

Whether it’s signposting to partner organisations, maximising benefits, funding new clothes after weight loss due to illness, repairing a broken boiler to heat the family home or funding towards setting up a new home as the result of suffering domestic abuse, Cavell Nurses’ Trust makes a big impact on nurses’ lives.

You can donate to this worthwhile cause here.

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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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