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‘Once in a generation’ chance to get UK-wide safe staffing laws – RCN president

RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty issues a rousing call at congress for nurses to get behind a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for UK-wide safe staffing laws

RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty issues a rousing call at congress for nurses to get behind a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for UK-wide safe staffing laws


Anne Marie Rafferty: ‘What we achieve over the next few years may be remembered
by generations to come.'  Picture: John Houlihan

RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty issued a call to action for nurses to get behind a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for UK-wide safe staffing laws.

In a rousing speech to open RCN congress 2019 in Liverpool on Sunday, Professor Rafferty spoke of the importance of the college’s safe staffing campaign.

‘What we achieve over the next few years may be remembered by generations to come. It may even change fundamentally the way we nurse our patients and the way the public sees us,’ she said.

‘We will not waste this opportunity’

‘This is a once in a generation opportunity and we will not waste it,’ she added to applause from the audience.

In her first speech to congress as RCN president, Professor Rafferty pointed to staffing laws enacted in Scotland and Wales.

Wales was the first part of the UK to enact a nurse staffing law, which came into force in April 2018, covering adult acute medical and surgical inpatient wards. The Scottish parliament passed a staffing law that applies to all clinical groups in health and social care earlier this month.

‘Politicians should take heed’

Professor Rafferty said politicians in England and Northern Ireland should take heed.

‘Wales and Scotland are our trailblazers, and now we are using our expertise and data to inform future work in England and Northern Ireland.

‘We shall ensure that our definition of safe and effective staffing is understood by those in the corridors of power.’

‘We’ve had to pick up the pieces’

Professor Rafferty also spoke of how nurses witnessed firsthand the effects of issues such as domestic abuse, homelessness and knife crime.

‘Too often we’ve had to pick up the pieces when other policies don’t deliver,’ she said.

‘Look at our clogged-up A&E departments, look at our overstretched mental health services, look outside the walls of our hospitals, look into our communities.’

‘A force for social good’

To help enact change the RCN membership must be galvanised to action, Professor Rafferty said.

‘We need to mobilise the hundreds of thousands of our members, in this room and beyond,’ she said.

‘We need to show our collective strength and power as an unstoppable force for social good.’

RCN awards announced

This year’s RCN Awards winners were revealed at the launch of congress 2019 on Sunday. The awards were as follows:

RCN student information officer of the year

Aimie Morgan

Highly commended: Katie Dutton, Russell Stringer

RCN learning representative of the year

Darren Blake

RCN steward of the year

Ceri Dolan

Highly commended: Claire Shields

RCN safety representative of the year

Claire Fisher

Highly commended: Valerie Phillips

RCN award of merit

Karen Dutton, Kathleen Hawksworth, Anne Marie Marley, Pauline McIntyre, Alison Upton, Dianne Yarwood

RCN fellowship

Dr Iain Armstrong, Professor Jane Ball, Dr David Foster, Professor Bridget Johnston, Professor Ann Keen, Professor Deborah Sturdy, Professor Michael Traynor, Clare Warnock, Baroness Mary Watkins of Tavistock


Read all the latest from RCN congress 2019 here

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