Northern Ireland news

Royal College of Nursing insists on a renewed focus on staff safety

RCN leader Pat Cullen said adequate safety equipment is neede in hospitals and care homes. Picture by Hugh Russell

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has insisted that a renewed focus on staff safety and workforce planning issues must follow in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

RCN Director for NI, Pat Cullen, made the call at a meeting of the Stormont Health Committee yesterday, where she highlighted the need for a health service that "more appropriately meets the needs of the people of Northern Ireland" by having adequate safety equipment in hospitals and care homes, and addressing staff pay concerns.

The committee was also urged to support the continued implementation of innovations including the scrapping of staff car park charges, and improved childcare support.

Speaking of safe staffing legislation stalled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Ms Cullen said it was important that the Department of Health "returns to these issues and that they are at the top of the agenda as they were before the pandemic".

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the north's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, has written to Queen's University on the matter of QUB virologists speaking out on the PPE situation.

A letter addressed to the university's Vice Chancellor expressed concerns regarding scientists speaking to the media about the availability of life-saving equipment.

QUB-based virologist Dr Connor Bamford hit back at the correspondamnce from Dr McBride, and stated in a tweet: "I understand that public health is a sensitive matter at the minute yet politely requesting that virologists do not engage with the media on such issues at this critical time and only talk about 'the virus' does not bode well for the future of this pandemic."

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Northern Ireland news