‘Stop victimising staff for embracing safety culture’

RCN congress speaker’s message to employers as she urges nurses to escalate care concerns

RCN congress speaker’s message to employers as she urges nurses to escalate care concerns

Evelyne Omondi. Picture: John Houlihan

The right staffing levels are an essential part of a safe working environment, nurses told RCN congress.

One of the final debates of the college's Liverpool meeting discussed the importance of promoting safety culture. 

The RCN is campaigning for safe staffing legislation UK-wide, estimating there is a 40,000 shortage of nurses in England alone.

During a discussion proposed by the RCN UK safety reps committee, board member Mark Anthony said: ‘I attended a gross misconduct meeting – a patient had died.

'Within 15 minutes I knew it was to do with staffing… an accident was waiting to happen.'

'Management is answerable'

Eva Omondi from Bedfordshire advocated the use of Datix, the web-based incident reporting and risk management software.

She said: ‘If you are short-staffed at work and cannot deliver services effectively, put a Datix in place.

‘Employers need to stop victimising those who embrace safety values, instead they need to help us to embrace the safety culture’

Eva Omondi, RCN, Bedfordshire

Ali Upton. Picture: John Houlihan

'The management will know if anything goes wrong with patient care then you have already escalated it and you are covered. The management is answerable.

‘Employers need to stop victimising those who embrace safety values, instead they need to help us to embrace the safety culture.’

Mike Travis, greater Liverpool branch, said: ‘You can’t have a safety culture unless the employer creates one.’

Ali Upton from RCN UK safety reps committee called for ‘a collective approach to safety, where leadership and front-line staff work together to ensure care is delivered safely.’

RCN congress round-up

‘I bought sanitary products for a patient in my break – that’s not right’

A nursing student recalled providing sanitary products for a patient who could not afford them.

RCN student committee member for Scotland, Dawn Keating was speaking during an RCN congress debate on period poverty. 

Dawn Keating.
Picture: John Houlihan

Benefits payments

She told the audience in Liverpool: 'A patient sat down in front of me and said, "I started bleeding this morning but because of my benefits sanctions I’m using a sock".

‘I went in every cupboard anywhere I could and found shaving gel, I found razors, I found toothpaste, but I could not find one sanitary product.

‘I actually used my own supply to give to this patient and on my lunch break I went out to get her some. That’s not right.'

Free supplies

Last year, the Scottish Government announced it would fund the supply of sanitary products to all schools, colleges and universities.

In March, a similar scheme was announced for secondary schools and colleges in England, and NHS England said the health service would offer free sanitary products to every hospital patient who needs them.

In April, the Welsh Government announced the £2.3 million Period Dignity Grant for Schools to help an estimated 141,000 girls.

RCN members passed a resolution instructing the college to lobby UK governments to take action on period poverty.


Call to reduce healthcare’s carbon footprint

Gwen Vardigans.
Picture: John Houlihan

Nurses spoke passionately about the need for the college to take action and lead on climate change.

Members at the college's Liverpool congress passed a resolution calling on the RCN to lobby healthcare providers to develop environmentally sustainable policies and strategies.

'The biggest threat of out lives'

Gwen Vardigans from North Yorkshire, suggested that RCN reps, especially safety reps, could encourage people in their organisations to reduce waste, recycle and help reduce carbon footprint.

'Climate change is the biggest threat of our lives,' she said.

Nursing student Craig Davidson said: 'The time for discussion is over, we are in a climate emergency.

'We are trusted professionals and we need to acknowledge this. We should be leading social change.'


Read full coverage of RCN congress 2019

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.