My name is Shaun Williams, I am a mature student nurse at Keele University (prior to this I was a healthcare assistant), and I am currently one of three candidates standing for election as student member of RCN Council.
The COVID19 Pandemic has highlighted the importance of nurses and the sacrifices they make daily. It is the profession that provides the glue that holds much of health and social care together. Despite these ever-increasing demands being there is little improvement in conditions and pay (and not to mention a decade of austerity).
The workforce needs investment to be sustainable, and by that I mean investment in people (this includes student nurses). Vacancy rates in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are at an all-time high. England alone has around 44,000 unfilled nursing posts – how can safe staffing be achieved without addressing this fundamental issue?
My priorities if elected as student member of RCN Council include: emboldening and revitalizing existing campaigns around fair pay, safe staffing, and better funding for education; to address longstanding issues around representation, transparency and governance within the RCN (now more than ever it needs to be member-led); to get some level of education reform on the table – nurse training needs to work for students, educators, and mentors.
It is my aim to be a candidate for all fields of nursing and nations within the United Kingdom. I am conscious as a learning disability nursing student and currently studying in England that I only tick a couple of the requisite boxes here and therefore will need to go the extra mile in the role to make sure all voices are heard (and get equal representation).
Attrition rates were already high, and retention poor, for student nurses and nurses alike. It is unacceptable that people leave the profession because of hardship. There needs to be a comprehensive strategy to address this.
I think it is important to reflect on the fact that nursing is the single largest occupation within healthcare; and that the RCN is the largest single professional organization and trade union within healthcare. Much talk is made of nurses being a strong and powerful profession but talk, as the expression goes, is cheap. This needs to be borne out.
There needs to be better organization, greater connectivity, and more active engagement between nurses. We need to be better advocates for ourselves. That is one of my main missions from day one. Especially since student nurses are the future of the profession.
I am no stranger to graft and rest assured I will be grafting like never before on behalf of members of the RCN and the wider profession if elected.
Having stated all this I feel it is important to emphasize that ultimately this election is not about me – it is about you (student nurses and nurses).
Voting is now open and will close on Monday 30 November – find out more.