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Record numbers turn up to Glasgow NiP Event

Monday afternoon and we were starting to worry that the Gods were against us, and the bad weather that had battered the south of England would make its way north, keeping both speakers and delegates away from the 2008 NiP Glasgow Event.

But we had nothing to worry about - the sun came out on Tuesday morning and the Scottish nurses turned out in their droves, over 750 of them - our highest turnout in Glasgow yet. And I hope they would all agree that it was worth it.

For those of you who don't know NiP Events has expanded, and our programme now boasts a specific public health stream alongside our practice nurse stream. This is the result of our partnership with Unite/CPHVA, and if Glasgow is anything to go by, this is going to be a very successful partnership.

The Glasgow Event programme consisted of two practice nurse streams and one public health stream, making it even harder for delegates to decide what presentations to go to. It also makes reporting on the Event more difficult, as there was only one of me and three rooms to choose from, so here is just a flavour of what the day held.

Suzie Lovett-Clements kicked things off with a look at self-care and the work of the Working in Partnership Programme. "We all need self-care," she told us. "From when we get up in the morning till when we go back to sleep at night." She described how 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancer could be avoided if common lifestyle risk factors were eliminated, which all really comes down to self-care. The WIPP course on self-care seemed to drum up a lot of interest in our audience, especially from the two prison nurses sitting in front of me.

Robert Hoskins,  a nurse lecturer from the University of Glasgow, looked at the role of the health visitor, and specifically what is happening to this role in Scotland. Eleven years ago Labour came into power and inherited a country with horrendous inequalities in health and wealth. They immediately set to work to remedy this, and health visiting was placed at the forefront  of tackling the health inequalities, as seen in policy documents such as Towards a Healthier Scotland and Making a Difference. Eleven years on and, Robert asked, what has happened?

Well cash-strapped PCTs have cut back commissioning HV services - in England the number of health visitors is at a 13-year low, with one HV job lost per day and an estimated 500,000 family visits not happening. Robert believes that one reason why initial plans didn't work out is that there was a lack of infrastructure for HVs to implement the wider public health role.

In 2006 the Scottish review of community nursing recommended making the discrete roles of HV, school nurse, district nurse and family health nurse obsolete, and introducing the new "community health nurse", who would work more in a social care model.

Several delegates present described how this model had already been introduced in their areas, and that it had left them feeling deskilled and restricted. While they could see the advantages for families for them to work alongside social workers, they felt that their public health role was being eroded.

Robert believes that if health visiting is going to survive and flourish in the 21st century it needs to widen the focus from medical to include the social model. This was a very emotive subject and one that we will definitely be returning to in future issues of Nursing in Practice.

Rita Newland, Professional Officer for the CPHVA, looked at the very important topic of record-keeping. She had some useful tips on how to write a clear, succinct summary that would not just help provide coordinated care, but would also stand up in court. She reminded her audience that heavy workload, staff shortages, etc, are not excuses in terms of the law, and so record keeping is not optional.

Scott Kane, a nurse consultant in liaison psychiatry, left me questioning my own drinking habits with his presentation on alcohol misuse. Apparently over the past 30 years alcohol consumption by women has gradually increased (a result of living with men suggested one delegate).

His statistics on modern drinking habits were quite scary. Did you know that in 2004 just under a quarter of all 11-15 year olds had drank in the last week; or that 27% of males over 16 report drinking over 21 units a week; or that at peak times, eight in 10 presentations in A+E are associated with alcohol.

However, he did lose favour with the audience when discussing the benefits of drinking one to two units of alcohol a day to the heart health of postmenopausal women, suggesting that quite a number of the audience might personally benefit from that information. Silly, silly man.

Other highlights for me included Karen Robertson's look at maternal depression and infant mental health, and Sue Hudson-Crauford's talk on motivational interviewing, which included a video of one of the bossiest GPs I've ever seen.

But as I said, this is just a glimpse, there were many other presentations that I was unable to attend, on topics such as HPV vaccination, neuropathic pain, smoking cessation, hyptertension, infection control and diabetes (and that's still not all).

I hate to sound clichéd but NiP Events really are going from strength to strength. But don't take my word for it, come and see for yourselves. Cardiff is next on 8 April, followed by our first trip to Newcastle on 23 April. Go to our Events pages for all details.

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"Fantastic speakers, very informative!" - Mairi-Louise Stewart