Sunday, 29 April 2012

Communication, Consultation, and a Cunning Couple

I was sent an email this week telling me that the College (of Health and Social Care) has a new Facebook site. This phenomenally successful social networking service is still only 8 years old. Today it has more than 900 million members and makes US$ 4 billion a year in revenue. The name comes from a more traditional form of social networking; it derives from the popular name given to the book given to students at the start of their studies in US Universities to help them get to know each other.

Surprisingly, I found I could have a quick look at the CHSC site without having to register, and I have now added this link to the blog. I say surprisingly, as I once a Facebook member, and as a consequence, have a user name and password, but these are long forgotten. I gave up membership on the basis that there are only so many things you need to know about what your children, nephew, nieces, brothers, sisters and work mates are up to.

I recognize the power such social networking has to bring people together, and as a form of communication, while not as good as F2F, it can be very effective in mobilizing large groups, something as a School we are hoping to do to celebrate International nurses day soon. And last week there was a fantastic example of just how effective such communication can be. From a Facebook call last Monday Norwegians flocked to town hall squares across the country to lift their voice in song last Thursday. Shocked by the lack of remorse shown by the far-right fanatic Breivik, whose rampage killed 77 people, many Norwegians appear to have decided the best way to confront him was to demonstrating their commitment to everything he loathes.

Driving home on Thursday I listened to a recording of the 40000 people in Oslo who singing along with Norwegian artist Lillebjoern Nilsen sang their version of the American folk music singer Pete Seeger's My Rainbow Race’, a song cited by Breivik as an example of how cultural Marxists had brainwashed Norwegian young people. As the voices of the Norwegian people filled my car with this beautiful song, I was both enthralled and totally captivated by the emotionality and effectiveness of their protest.

Of course Pete Seeger, now 92 years old, has long been associated with creating music and songs that have been central in many social justice issues that range from civil rights through to the environment. He sang out against the Vietnam War, and more recently with the protestors of the Occupy Wall Street protest in Manhattan. I guess many people will, like me have, learnt how to play and sing his most famous song, ‘where have all the flowers gone’.

With such proof positive of the power of mass communication, I was amazed to see those somewhat self important people at the RCN announce that they were ‘hosting’ a commission to review nurse education in England. And it seems they are doing so without first obtaining a mandate from their members that this is a good and appropriate use of their resources. I am not a member of the RCN so I didn’t expect to be consulted, but I guess there might be a number of people, in what has been described as the worlds largest nurse trade union, (many who pay an almost £200 annual membership fee), who might justifiably have thought it would been appropriate to have been asked.

RCNs Pete (Carter not Seeger) asked Lord Willis to be the independent chair for this hosted commission, and he has agreed to do so. Of course it is our Phil, long term supporter of Burnley Football Club (Champion not Premier League) and retired MP, who thought it might be good for research in the UK to concentrate all our efforts into no more than 30 Universities. he felt all other Universities should merge with Colleges of Further Education to deliver the high quality skills’ training the UK is desperate for. This sounds like just the man to lead a review into the education of the graduate only profession of nursing.

Now our School was one of the first in England to gain approval from the NMC to run an all graduate programme of pre-registration nurse education and training. The first cohort started in September 2011, the second in March 2012. And I am very happy to speak out on what is right about the way we prepare nurses for practice, but actually I am more inclined to do so to the Nursing and Care Quality Forum whose work was announced on the 17th April. If you feel you would also like to make a difference you can by going to:


The cunning couple? Well not Pete and Phil, but two juvenile foxes who have kept Cello almost on constant fox watch last week. The pair have been seen cavorting on the front lawn in the early evening. However, Jemima, sitting on her nest of 19 duck eggs, remains safe from the intentions of these 2 unwelcome interlopers. Not so sure about the future of nurse education though.