Nurses identify threats and urge governments to take action


Nurse leaders from nine countries around the world convened in Stockholm, Sweden to identify key threats to health care delivery and to urge their governments to take action. Participants at the 17th International Council of Nurses (ICN) Workforce Forum issued a public communiqué identifying key threats and fundamental requirements for the delivery of safe and quality care.

The forum provided a platform for an exchange of ideas and experiences on trends affecting the nursing workplace, and discussions of how to address current and future challenges. The countries represented were Australia, Canada, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Held in September, the forum was hosted by the Vårdförbundet (the Swedish Association of Health Professionals).

An issue of particular concern was the toll taken by the economic downturn on nurses’ working conditions and the consequent threat to the quality and safety of health care delivery. Budget cuts are further straining an already under-resourced nursing and health care system. In several countries, the reorganisation of health care is resulting in privatisation, staff cuts, wage freezes or cuts, reassignment of work to ‘less expensive’ providers, and erosion of terms and conditions of employment. Austerity measures also affect patients’ health and safety by resulting in longer waiting times, cuts in essential services, overcrowding of hospitals and reduction in community services.

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Participating in the 17th International Council of Nurses (ICN) Workforce Forum held in Stockholm, Sweden are (left) Elizabeth Adams, ICN Consultant for Nursing and Health Policy and Eva Szutkowska, International Officer for Vårdförbundet (The Swedish Association of Health Professionals) which hosted the meeting.

The forum communiqué calls on governments as a matter of priority to:

  • • Immediately develop and implement effective health workforce planning, education, training and retention strategies to sustain service delivery and nursing contribution.
  • • Ensure that budget planning and decision-making are driven by population health care needs and safe quality care.
  • • Build upon and implement evidence-based findings relating to positive practice environments and address the specific roles and responsibilities of all health sector employers to develop a nursing workforce capable of consistently meeting established standards of care and the public's expectations.

The full communiqué is available at: http://www.icn.ch/pillarsprograms/icn-workforce-forum-communique/icn-workforce-forum-communique.html. The nursing workforce profile data and the wagesurveys are available at: http://www.icn.ch/pillarsprograms/socio-economic-welfare/.

With socio-economic welfare as one of its three pillars, ICN works for fair and equitable compensation and other work benefits for nurses. Many ICN member associations are actively engaged in collective bargaining and other workplace advocacy activities. The next ICN Workforce Forum will take place in September 2012 in Canada and be co-hosted by the Canadian Nurses Association.

Nurses address workplace issues at ICN Asia Forum

Presidents and nurse leaders from national nursing associations (NNAs) across Asia gathered in Macau for the 12th International Council of Nurses (ICN) Asia Workforce Forum. The forum consists of a well-established network of NNA representatives in Asia interested in work-life issues affecting nurses.

The Nurses Association of Macau (NAM) hosted the forum, and also used the occasion to celebrate its 25th anniversary. NAM President Alice Tin Kit Peng co-chaired the two-day meeting in partnership with ICN. NNA presidents and nurse leaders from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand participated. Also attending were ICN Board Member Dr Masako Kanai-Pak and Elizabeth Adams, ICN Consultant for Nursing and Health Policy.

Held in November, the forum provided a platform for nurse leaders to share ideas and experiences related to the socio-economic welfare nursing issues in the region. Strategic discussions focused on how to addresstoday's challenges and those of the future. Each country presented a comprehensive national report. ICN presented the collated data and key findings from the 2011 Nurse Wage Questionnaire and the Nursing Workforce Profile Survey (available at the ICN website: http://www.icn.ch/pillarsprograms/socio-economic-welfare/).

Participants also discussed strengthening positive practice environments, the impact of the global financial crisis and demographic changes, health human resource and workload management, including working hours and national and manmade disasters. The Japanese Nurses Association (JNA) shared their experiences, challenges and innovative strategies in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. JNA expressed appreciation to the NNAs around the world who sent messages of concern and ongoing support throughout the year.

The next ICN Asia Workforce Forum, to be co-hosted by the Nurses Association of Thailand, will take place in Bangkok in November 2012.

Throughout 2011 the Nurses Association of Macau (NAM) celebrated their silver jubilee year. During the anniversary event following the forum, Stella Lei, also an NAM President, spoke of the increasing demands of health care due to the increase of chronic diseases, population ageing, change of disease spectrum and soaring population in Macau. The Macau Government awarded the Charity Medal of Merit to NAM in recognition for their dedication to developing and delivering high quality nursing care to the population of Macau.

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Presidents and nurse leaders from national nursing associations from across Asia participated in the 12th ICN Asia Workforce Forum, held in Macau in November 2011. The Nurses Association of Macau hosted the workforce forum, and also used the occasion to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

New publication supports improved patient care outcomes

A new publication that takes a further step toward standardizing nursing care data has resulted from collaboration between the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA).

The publication improves communication between healthcare professionals, patients and their families and thus supports continuous improvement in patient care outcomes. It also provides managers with information for decisions about resource allocation, best practices and the impact of nursing. Titled Nursing Outcome Indicators, the publication provides a cross-map between the International Classification for Nursing Practice (ICNP®) and Canadian Health Outcomes for Better Information and Care (C- HOBIC).

ICNP, a program of ICN, provides an international electronic platform and standard to facilitate the description and comparison of nursing practice locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. ICNP is part of the ICN eHealth Programme, whose vision is to transform nursing through the application of information and communication technology. More information on ICNP can be found at http://www.icn.ch.

Sponsored by CNA, C-HOBIC enables the collection of standardized clinical outcomes to reflect nursing practice in Canada. More information on C-HOBIC is available at http://www.cna-aiic.ca.

‘ICN and CNA are enthusiastic about the potential for sharing this work internationally, especially in facilitating the use of electronic health records to collect data on evidence-based, nursing-sensitive outcomes’, said David Benton, ICN Chief Executive Officer. ‘These data on outcomes from nursing practice can be used for national and international reporting and provide international comparisons. Use of international standards, such as ICNP and C-HOBIC, will support efforts to share best practices on achieving patient outcomes across all settings where nurses practice’.

The new Nursing Outcome Indicators publication is available through the ICN eShop at http://www.icn.ch.

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