I'm writing this on the train back to London after a very enjoyable and very successful Nursing in Practice Event in Manchester. Yes I know, I work for NiP so I'm bound to say so, but ask any of the delegates, as I did, and I'm pretty sure you'll get a similar view.
I don't want to bore you by boasting about the high calibre of speakers, the quality of the presentations and the lovely sandwiches we had for lunch, but will list some of my personal highlights.
Alison Hadley from the Teenage Pregnancy Unit and her talk about teenage pregnancy. Good news – we're on the way towards the target of halving the teenage pregnancy rate by 2010, but lots of work to do. I was especially pleased to see my own borough of Hackney is doing particularly well. One delegate suggested a "birthday card service" for teenagers when they hit, say, 14 years, where we invite them into the surgery on their own for a complete health check, which would include sexual health and contraceptive advice. What do you think?
Not a bad idea, especially considering 40% of English 15-year-olds have had sexual intercourse. I learnt this at Dr Sarah Jarvis's presentation on the HPV vaccine. Did you know that cervical cancer is the second most frequent cancer in women aged 15-44? Did you also know that 99.7% of cases of cervical cancer are due to the HPV? And did you know that an estimated 80% of sexually active women will be exposed to the virus by the age of 50? Obviously not all will go on to develop cervical cancer, but it's a pretty strong argument for vaccination.
And the prize for most insightful comment also went to Dr Jarvis, when she told us "God gave men a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to operate one at a time." It explains a lot really.
Emma Croghan doesn't want to waste the opportunity that the pending smoking ban, sorry Emma, smoking legislation is offering us. As an incentive to help our patients who smoke to quit she explained that if we managed to support 10 people in their attempt to quit, and who quit for four weeks, the evidence suggests that after 12 months at least two of them would still be off the fags, and as one in two long-term smokers will die of a smoking-related diseases, we have effectively saved one life.
She also made me feel very nostalgic for my childhood by reminding me of the old antismoking campaign, where the baddie Nick O'Teen tries to persuade kids in a playground to light up, only to be stopped just in the nick of time by Superman, do you remember that? – a much more effective campaign than fishhooks in cheeks!
TV's David Bull motivated us all. He started with a series of questions:
Well I don't blame you. Every five minutes you seem to have new challenges thrown at you.
I could go on and on but the rolling fields outside the train window are making me feel a bit drowsy. But you'll find all the presentations on this website over the next few days so you can see for yourself what a great event it was. And if you were at our Manchester Event, why not let us know what you thought.
We're in Cardiff in a few weeks (12 June). I'm looking forward to finding out how our Welsh nurses are doing. Till then …
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