RCN congress

RCN president urges government rethink on safe staffing guidance

RCN president Cecilia Anim has urged the government to rethink its decision to suspend the safe staffing work by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

 John Houlihan John Houlihan

In her first speech to RCN congress as president, Ms Anim said she was ‘deeply worried’ by the move to halt NICE’s work, adding: ‘The government must revisit this.’

Earlier this month England’s chief nurse Jane Cummings said work on safe staffing guidance in A&E, mental health and community settings would be taken over by NHS England.

To loud applause, Ms Anim, an RCN member for 38 years, went on to tell the audience in Bournemouth that nurses have been hit hard by austerity and years of pay restraint.

‘The government must give us opportunities for training and support us when we raise concerns. We will make sure that this government values nursing,’ she said.

Ms Anim, a nurse for more than 40 years, pledged to be the voice of RCN members and to fight for the best in patient care and for the respect that the profession deserves.

She said she had been ‘lucky’ in coming to the UK from Ghana, ‘to move from one country with good nursing standards to another'.

But she added that many nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are working amid unimaginable challenges in countries such as Nepal and Sierra Leone.  

She urged members to support a bid to raise £5,000 for a new RCN Foundation scholarship for nurses working in disaster zones.

Ms Anim, who received a standing ovation at the end of her speech, was presented with the chain of office by her predecessor Andrea Spyropoulos.

She thanked Ms Spyropoulos for her ‘tireless commitment to the RCN and to our profession’ and paid tribute to outgoing RCN general secretary Peter Carter, who had ‘transformed the organisation’.