‘Our voices are needed’ - Ipswich nurse Sarah Seeley’s call to action at major conference

Sarah Seeley at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Sarah Seeley at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Andy Abbott

An Ipswich nurse is calling on colleagues to stand up and have their say in one of the biggest transformations the NHS has ever seen.

Sarah Seeley wants the profession to get its voice heard as organisations push forward with the implementation of the so-called Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) across the country.

The Ipswich Hospital worker is due to speak on this issue at the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) annual Congress, which starts in Liverpool on Saturday, May 13.

STPs are programmes which have been drawn up to redesign and develop local health services to cope with increased demand, financial challenges and an ageing population, among other challenges.

Talking ahead of the meeting, Sarah Seeley, chairwoman of the RCN Suffolk branch, said: “We need to make a call to nurses to raise their head above the parapet and join in now. Nurses’ voices are needed as we move forward with these STPs.

“So far the plans, in many cases, have been discussed only as a high level strategic framework. But now the actions from these plans are going to filter down into our local organisations and networks.

“It’s now time to get nurses involved so we can influence the plans as they go forward, working in partnership with other professions and the NHS.”

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RCN Congress will also hear from another Ipswich nurse, Tracey Risebrow, who will start a discussion on research which highlighted concerns about the mentors of nursing students being manipulated or threatened by their students to pass them during their studies.

Tracey, vice chair of RCN Suffolk branch, said the research, conducted by De Montfort University in Leicester, had found in some rare cases students used tactics such as crying, questioning the competence of their mentor or even verbal or physical threats.

“We’re interested in having this debate to see if this is something that people are concerned about and if it is a big problem,” Tracey said.

“You do hear about it happening. I wouldn’t say it was a regular occurrence, but it does have an impact on the mentors who feel pressured. It makes them feel they are ruining this person’s career and life. It might also make them feel that they are not doing a good job if they have to fail a student.”

Teresa Budrey, RCN eastern regional director, said she hoped the discussions led by the Suffolk branch would spark some interesting debate.

She added: “We believe that STPs should be written in partnership with clinicians, including nursing staff.

“Nursing staff must be actively involved and engaged in these plans from conception to delivery, to ensure they make full use of nursing skills and knowledge.”

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