RCN congress

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RCN congress 2015 in Bournemouth

Around 5,000 nurses flocked to Bournemouth for the annual RCN congress this week.

Key nursing issues were hotly debated at the four-day event, attended by nurses from across the UK. Early risers keen to enjoy the sea air took part in yoga on the beach at 8am, before heading to the Bournemouth International Centre for the day's debates.

In a packed auditorium, nurses called on the RCN council to lobby against new immigration rules that will force thousands of non EU nurses home from 2017. Among the many lively debates was one of the announcement that NICE that is has suspended work on safe staffing. A huge 99% of nurses backed an emergency resolution, proposed by chair of the RCN public health forum Jason Warriner, calling on the RCN to push for the decision to be reversed.

There was also time for fun. A discussion on the health benefits of music prompted a singalong in the congress hall. Led by Neil Thompson, nurses joined in with a chorus of You'll never walk alone, before Andrew McGovern, a member of the north east London branch, changed the tempo belting out I Do like to be Beside the Seaside.

Baroness Shirley Williams introduced the screening of Testament of Youth, based on the book written by her mother Vera Brittain about her experiences as a first world war voluntary aid detachment nurse.

Congress is a place for introductions as well as fond farewells. New congress chair Stuart Mckenzie was warmly welcomed by nurses, as was the college's new president, Cecilia Anim. Ms Anim received the chains of office from predecessor Andrea Spyropoulos, before delivering her first congress address, pledging to make the new government value nursing.

RCN general secretary Peter Carter, who leaves the college next month after eight years at the helm, bid goodbye to members. In an emotional final address, Dr Carter said he was proud of nurses and urged them to unite and stand up for themselves. Applause and cheers filled the auditorium, as Dr Carter spoke out to defend nurses’ right to unsocial hours pay. He bowed out thanking nurses for the ‘warmth and encouragement’ they have shown him.

Picture credit (for all pictures): John Houlihan

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