Back in 2013, members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) made the decision to withdraw from the International council of nurses (ICN). Fast forward in 2016, the British public made the decision to withdraw from the Economic European Union. Political instability presently felt in the UK started with Brexit and was then followed by a government of coalition. Now in 2017, we are possible in the verge of living in a cocoon. Outside the UK, we have moved from an Obama to Trump’s era, where twitter rants have implications across the globe. This is an era defined by a playground of irrational men-led missile launches. An era marked by a disrespect for cultural diversity and for some, Hitler’s thought of supremacy of one’s race is unfortunately still alive. Pyongyang, Charlottesville, Barcelona, Manhattan. Gender inequality where the glass ceiling has yet to be broken fully. One thing is certain – any event or political decision in a country has implications across the globe.
Within healthcare, in countries like the US we have seen protests such as #NursesTakeDC, a grassroot movement to advocate for safe nurse to patient ratios. When speaking at RCN Congress in 2016, Rebecca Patton, former president of the American Nurses Association highlighted how the association played a key role in the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act. Without a doubt, nurses can and have an important role in influencing politics and public health matters.
Over the last months, in the UK, RCN members have protested for the government to scrap the 1% cap and the government has heard us. However, we still need to see that in real terms and ensure that the 14% pay gap created in the last 10 years is closed. Two months ago my fellow Portuguese nurses walkout for 5 days – a total of 85% were on strike just on the first day. They had been silenced for too long and are now fighting for better salary in view of their competencies at degree level and a career progression that recognises specialist nurses roles. Whether in Portugal or the UK, there’s a government that prefers not to listen to those that care for the riches and the poorest, healthy and sick, during birth, life and death. Portugal’s fight should be our fight. Our fight should be their fight. I go above and beyond and dare to say that any country’s fight for better pay, better working conditions, recognition of nurses skills and knowledge should be everyone’s fight. We should be sitting at the same table. Only then we will improve the nurse image worldwide. Only then we can be stronger.
With the current political and nursing situations in the UK and the implications of Brexit for nursing, research and education, can we risk it living in a cocoon?
It is time to be more altruist and work towards one common goal. The image of nursing as a profession that comes together and works together, that has no country boundaries. Let’s remember that any gain or lost that any of us makes, irrespectively of which country we live in, is ultimately and advantage and a lesson for all of us. This is why I think the Royal College of Nursing should re-join the International Council of Nursing. It’s not about me. It’s about all of us and this is why I’m #oneof100.
(c) Ismalia de Sousa, 2017