Applying for study leave

Posted on 25 April 2014 by Markku Viherlaiho

We in BARNA committee have noticed the increase in delegates self-financing our annual conference. Is this the reason for lower delegate numbers? When we have made direct contact with our members, it became obvious that many departments did not allow their nurses to attend the conference. What also took us by surprise is that many nurses did not seem to know that they are allowed to apply for subsidy for the conference payments. 

We in BARNA committee have noticed the increase in delegates self-financing our annual conference. Is this the reason for lower delegate numbers? To address the change we have reduced the conference registration payments and lengthened the early bird offers.

 At the height of BARNA annual conferences we could attract anything from over 200 to 300 delegates. Current numbers tend to be around 80. If we look into our conferences in early 2000 then the majority of the payments were from the hospitals and it was rare to see an NHS nurse paying the delegate fee.

This is a worrying trend, not just for BARNA’s existence, especially as there is no other association that is purely dedicated in providing education for nurses in this speciality, but also the difficulties nurses face when applying for study leave.

When we have made direct contact with our members, it became obvious that many departments did not allow their nurses to attend the conference and even in more extreme situations, department managers negatively vetted the associations’ advertising material; basically what could go on the notice board.

The issues above may not be new news, but what took us by surprise is that many nurses did not seem to know that they are allowed to apply for subsidy for the conference payments.

All this was supposed to become easier with Agenda for Change as long ago as 2004. KSF was introduced to assist employers set out career paths and support for staff in their career and professional development. You may laugh, as many of us are faced with daily “threats” of re-profiling to lower bands to save money. You can consider yourself lucky to find band 6 jobs in the speciality. The employers want the experience, but seem not to be happy to pay for it.

So where is the money for education and professional development, why can it be so difficult to obtain in some Trusts and the others seem to be more supportive? So when they save money in banding and save money in education this can only have dire consequences for nurses in any speciality.

Do I need to mention the Francis report 2013! It is difficult to see any nationwide changes since the report was published, actually the change has been patchy.

So what did we nurses learn from the Francis report? We at least found out that the staff engagement is critical in achieving high quality care. The appraisal (personal development plan) is a corner stone in making sure the nursing care is maintained at the highest possible standard. To achieve all this we need clearly defined quality assurance systems in place.

Does not all this equate to continuous professional development and that the nurses need support from their employee in achieving this?  As said in the report “effective support and professional development for nurses should be made the responsibility of professionally accountable responsible officer for nursing and in due course reinforced by system of revalidation”.

As RCN quite rightly points out “clarification is needed is several issues relating to revalidation process”.  Here is the link to recently published RCN response to NMC’s document regarding revalidation.

It may take some time before these issues have been agreed on, but in the meantime it is essential that nurses continue to request or should we say demand employer support in our continuous professional development.

 

Just reading the following points in the Francis report make you see the need for conference payment support from the hospital. Here are some part quotes from the report.

23.3. “Deficiencies in initial and continuing training”.

23.38 “30% staff having experienced or witnessed bullying by member of management”.

23.49 “There should be increased focus in nurse training, education and professional development. This includes theory and technical skills.”

This is why BARNA is here. We make sure there is at least one annual conference that covers our specialities and we are now developing the study days in co-operation with leading companies. One was in October 2013 with Molnlycke that covered patient warming and the other one is in Autumn 2014 with Merck and will cover bariatrics.

So be brave and demand financial support for your annual BARNA conference. Your manager may say no, your education department may be awkward, but if you do not know your right to demand the support, they will happily forget about you!

Barna. British Anaesthetic and Recovery Nurses Association