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Meeting the angels of the North

If someone had told me that yesterday I would end up singing at the top of my voice in the middle of the day in a room full of nurses, with no alcohol taken beforehand, I'm not sure I would have believed them. But sing I did, although not on my own (alcohol would definitely have been a needed for that).

That was just one of the many highlights of yesterday's NiP Event in Newcastle, our first visit to the northeast. But I'll come back to that later.

Debra Humphris started the day with a talk on workforce planning and the challenges that lie ahead. Debra is Director of the Healthcare Innovation Unit at the University of Southampton, and has already conducted a lot of research in this area.

With the population of under-16s decreasing, and the population of over-65s increasing there is a huge challenge ahead over who will provide the care. In fact, improved life expectancy means that it is the over-85 age group that is increasing particularly rapidly. Debra put this question to the audience: do we have the workforce that we need or the workforce that the service users need?

Christine Sinclair is the clinical manager for pain services at James Cook University Hospital, and she spoke to delegates about pain management, an area where workforce planning is very relevant. With back pain alone costing the NHS £480m each year Christine suggested some new ways of working that might ease this burden. For example, specialist pain nurses available to GPs and practice nurses; more locally accessible services; development of practice-based pain link nurses; pain review clinics at GP practices; and support for patients at home.

Her potential solutions inlcuded nurse-led pain review clinics in the community and practice nurses to run titration clinics under nurse specialist/GP supervision.

Lynda Bramham, a senior nurse adviser at MASTA, discussed how safe Europe is as a holiday destination, which proved to be a very popular session. And no wonder it was popular - in 2006 we made 69.5 million trips abroad and the numbers are increasing!

It comes as no surprise though - Europe is generally safe. However, it is worth remembering to take precautions, get a health insurance and seek up-to-date information before travelling.  

And so to the singing. Our motivational speaker at Newcastle was Katherine Zezerson, Director for Learning and Participation at the Sage, Gateshead. Katherine spoke to us about singing, music and wellbeing, a subject very close to her heart. She told us how singing uses lots of different parts of the brain and so has mental as well as physical benefits. She has used singing and music to engage all sorts of people, from disillusioned teenage boys, to pregnant women and the elderly.

Katherine's passion for her subject was contagious and by the end of her 40 minutes she had us all standing up singing to each other. It was a great experience and she completely converted this editor - singing is the way forward and I urge you all to find a local choir and join in - you won't regret it.

Here are some other things that I learnt at yesterday's Event:

  • The forthcoming HPV vaccination programme is the most expensive vaccination programme ever.
  • Dr Noemi Eiser from the British Lung Foundation has yet to meet a doctor who follows protocols.
  • Four of the top 10 COPD hotspots are in the Northeast - Sunderland, Tyneside, Gateshead and Durham.
  • Taking two Viagra pills instead of one will not improve your erection. It will give you a blocked nose and flushed face.

All in all a great day. Our next Event is in Manchester on 20 May. Remember, if you register online in advance you will receive £5 to go towards your travel. Click here for more information.

Were you at the NiP Event in Newcastle? Tell us what you thought of it. Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"The event and venue were very good. My colleagues and I can't wait until the next one here. Everyone was pleasant and friendly. The topics were interesting. In the North East we sometimes moan about the lack of conferences here, but this was superb. Look forward to you all coming back soon." - Angela Johnson, Felling Gateshead OCC Health

"The event was fantastic, the best work event that I have been to. The key speaker Debra, was very interesting and raised key issues for the future of nursing. The session by the doctor from the british lung foundation was locally focused by looking at the COPD NSF hotspots. The best part of the day was the networking and familiar faces. Thankyou." - Lynn Richardson, Newcastle PCT

"It was a fabulous day!! And all my goodies are going to look great in my new office I'm moving to next week! The venue was just perfect. Well done everyone on an excellent event. Thank you." - Sandra Kay, North Tyneside PCT - Public Health Nurse (Children & Young People)

"Yes, It was great. Can't wait for next year. Up to date, relevant informative, good presentation, prestigious speakers and a friendly atmosphere. I was only sorry that many of my health visitor colleagues were unable to attend." - Joan Gledson, Dilston Road, Newcastle