I had pleasure in accepting an invitation from our UK colleagues to attend a reception, on the eve of Remembrance Day, where two rolls of honour containing the names of Irish, British and Commonwealth nurses, who died during the two world wars, were presented at the RCN HQ. The rolls of honour were compiled by Yvonne McEwen, a former nurse, who has been researching the names for the past ten years. “The rolls uncover a history of fortitude, valour, self-sacrifice and dedication. The nature of the deaths tells us a lot about the kind of women who were prepared to sacrifice their lives in pursuit of humanity and their profession. Tragically, their sacrifices have never been properly recognised either by their profession or politicians. The rolls of honour are a start. In the absence of a proper memorial, at least their names will be known to the public and the profession.”
Rita Martin, community and political organiser for New South Wales Nurses Association in Sydney emailed me recently regarding their campaign for nurse staffing ratios and skill mix for safe patient care. As we all know, university research confirms there is a strong link between the number of experienced skilled nurses and midwives and safe patient care.
Groundbreaking studies by Prof Christine Duffield at the UTS Centre for Health Service Management measured the relationship between nurse staffing and patient outcomes and found there is a 30% increased chance of dying if a nurse is caring for eight patients instead of four. She also found that adverse patient outcomes increase with increased overtime, fewer permanent staff and fewer nursing hours per patient. In Victoria, the only state in Australia to introduce nurseto patient ratios, almost 10,000 nurses have returned to work in public hospitals due to better working conditions. Things will only change for the better in any public health system if nurses and midwives, and the public, work together to pressure our politicians. Will keep you posted!
EU health force
“Who takes care of those who care? – Putting a human face to EU Policy making.”
The European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN) and the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) came together recently and organised a debate in the European Parliament with support from ‘health friendly’ MEPs, Oana Antonescu, MEP Romania, Jean Lambert, MEP UK, Marisa Matias, MEP Portugal, Marc Tarabella, MEP Belgium and Antonyia Parvanova, MEP Bulgaria on the above topic.
It examined the extent of the challenge common for all European countries by bringing in personal testimonies of health professionals and patients from several European member states including a nurse from Poland, a nurse from Belgium, a doctor from Latvia and a patient from Bulgaria. An adequate and sustainable EU workforce for health is a crucial issue for Europe of today and tomorrow where rapid changes in demographic, ageing population, widening health inequalities and changing disease patterns place additional burden on the already stretched European health systems.
Having listened to the debate, I fully agree that we need to, timely and adequately, plan the workforce for health, implement effective recruitment and retention strategies and invest in continuous professional development for health professionals, not only across Europe, but in Ireland as well. I probably sound like a broken record at this stage! The five MEP’s that I mentioned above submitted a written declaration on the EU workforce for health which I hope all Irish MEP’s will sign as well (see www.efnweb.eu). Many thanks to Irish MEP’s – Marian Harkin who attended the debate, and Mairead McGuinness (pictured above alongside me) who also took time out of her busy schedule to meet me and discuss our issues here at home.
The reason I was at the debate in the EU Parliament was that I was attending the 93rd General Assembly of the European Federation of Nurses in Brussels along with Annette Kennedy, INMO director of professional development. We were joined by LeeAnne Heneghan who is our student representative on Executive Council and she is also president of European Nursing Students Association.
I can’t believe that it’s almost Christmas again. It’s been a long hard year and as you read this we will be digesting how the budget unfolded and how it will affect our daily lives. However I do hope that whatever ‘down time’ you have over the festive season will be spent with loved ones and enjoyed. Even in these challenging times I still believe we have a profession worth fighting for and if I get my one wish on January 1, 2011 the headlines will read Recruitment embargo for nurses and midwives lifted and all vacant posts to be filled. Nollaig shona duit agus athbhliain faoi mhaise duit”
|From the president - On the ground with the president|