Mid-May catch-up post

RiSC front pageWork on the RiSC and COCAPP studies means that, of necessity, I’ve had to let this blog site (and pretty much everything else) take something of a back seat in recent weeks. The picture on the left is a screen shot of the RiSC study final report, which is now perilously close to completion. Once submitted to the funding body (the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme) it will be peer reviewed, and once accepted for the NIHR Journals Library progress through an editorial process before (hopefully sometime before the end of this year) appearing online.

Elsewhere, I see that the call for abstracts for this year’s NPNR conference remains open for a little while yet, as this tweet from Laura Benfield who works for the RCN Events team indicates:

I’m pleased to say that both the RiSC and COCAPP teams have already submitted abstracts. The conference will again be at Warwick University, and promises to a special affair. Here’s a snip from the event’s website:

This year is the 20th international NPNR conference and it’s going to be a celebration.

We wish to celebrate and promote some of the outstanding mental health nursing research that shapes mental health policy and nursing practice across the world. We will also acknowledge some of the best psychiatric and mental health nursing research that helped create the strong foundation for our work today. And we will invite delegates to look ahead to map out the future for mental health nursing research, education and practice.

Whilst my head has been somewhere else I see that the Department of Health has now published Positive and Proactive Care: reducing the need for restrictive interventions (something which members of Mental Health Nurse Academics contributed to) and that, yesterday, it was announced that NICE is about to step into the debate on nursing numbers. Here’s how The Guardian reported this:

Nurses in hospitals should not have to look after more than eight patients each at any one time, the body that sets NHS standards will urge next week in a move that will add to pressure to end what critics claim is dangerous understaffing.

Responding to concerns about standards of patient care in the aftermath of the Mid Staffs scandal, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will warn that registered nurses’ workloads should not exceed that number because patients’ safety could be put at risk.

The regulator’s intervention will intensify the pressure on hospitals, growing numbers of which are in financial difficulty, to hire more staff to tackle shortages even though many have little spare money. Campaigners on the subject believe at least 20,000 extra nurses are urgently needed at a cost of about £700m.

This looks to be a very important intervention indeed, with all sorts of potential implications. It will be interesting to see how policymakers respond. I also wonder how this debate will play out in the context of community health care, and whether we might expect some kind of consideration of caseload sizes. This is a fiendishly difficult area, and is far more complex than simply saying that (for example) ‘each community mental health nurse should have a caseload of no more than x‘.

I also see that Community Care has been continuing to highlight the extraordinary pressures facing people working in, and using, the mental health system. Austerity is very harmful, and Community Care is drawing necessary attention to the problems of lack of beds, funding cuts and retractions in community services.

Before I get my head back down into report-writing here’s a final plug, this time to a piece Michael Coffey has written over on the MHNAUK blog:

As we roll up to the end of April and summer is just around the corner the planning of our next meeting is starting to fall into some sort of shape. MHNAUK meetings usually take the form of morning presentations and afternoon group business items. After a meeting devoted to group strategy and plans in Cardiff in the Spring of 2013 we have attempted to get work done in our meetings and be much more strategic in terms of themes for presentations and outputs arising from these. This has meant that in the past year we have focused on dementia care and produced a position paper from this and in subsequent meetings we have discussed restrictive practices and physical health care in mental health which will result in further position papers.
For our coming meeting this June we are currently discussing ideas around the history of mental health nursing as one possible theme alongside plans to further our relationships with the mental health nurse consultants group. In addition we will revisit our plans for future themes so that we keep the focus firmly on supporting education and research in our field. Agendas are never truly fully complete and over the next few weeks new items will arise and suggestions will arrive that members feel we must discuss. This is as it should be and I welcome this as evidence of the vitality of the wider group, anyone fancy discussing yet another review of nurse education for instance?

Michael Coffey
Chair of MHNAUK


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