The Northern Ireland launch of an international nursing campaign has taken place, with a pledge to focus on homelessness and health inequalities in Northern Ireland.
The Nursing Now campaign will also focus on the future role of nursing and midwives, men in nursing, early intervention, and transforming education for nurses. Nursing Now is a three-year global awareness drive run in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organisation.
NI’s Chief Nursing Officer Professor Charlotte McArdle welcomed the launch and said: “Today’s society faces a number of significant challenges and nurses and midwives will be a key part of the solution to those health challenges – if they are properly deployed, valued and included in health decision-making.”
Speaking at a Public Health Nursing Conference today in Mosley Mill hosted by the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency, Professor McArdle said: “We must prioritise work to improve the health inequalities which continue to divide our communities in Northern Ireland. In the least deprived part of NI, men live 6.6 years longer than their counterparts in most deprived areas. For women this figure is 4.5 years.
“Homelessness is one of the biggest scourges of our time and I have made tackling it one of my key priorities for the Nursing Now Campaign. We know a homeless person is 20 times more likely to die from drugs and 50 times more likely to have hepatitis. Statistics like that should never be acceptable.
“To ensure a bright future for this region, we also have to act on the damning statistics of childhood obesity, mental ill health and to address drug and alcohol problems. Nursing will be at the forefront of action in all these vital areas."
The keynote speaker Professor Sir Michael Marmot spoke about health inequalities and said: “Nurses are the most trusted group of people. They treat individuals with compassion and care and have great potential to improve the health of communities through action on the social determinants of health.”
TV presenter Sarah Travers and Katharine Walker, who is the current Miss Northern Ireland and a paediatric nurse attended the launch as Nursing Now NI Ambassadors.
The Nursing Now campaign, which will run to the end of 2020, will work with partners around the world to advocate for more nurses in leadership positions and to improve perceptions of nurses, enhance their influence and maximise their contributions to ensuring that everyone everywhere has access to health and healthcare.
Mary Hinds, the Director of Nursing and Allied Health Professionals at the Public Health Agency said: “Reducing health inequalities is one of the key aims of the Public Health Agency - to protect and improve the health and social wellbeing of our population. Our nursing workforce has a critical role to play in the reduction of health inequalities.
“Nurses impact on all our lives from our birth, throughout life and into our later years. Nurses support individuals and communities in the promotion of good health, the prevention of harm and illness and the provision of expert compassionate care and treatment. We support the goals of the Nursing Now awareness campaign for Northern Ireland and welcome the opportunity to shine a light on the importance of the work of our nurses and midwives, now and in the future.”
Jim Dennison, Chief Executive of the Simon Community, Northern Ireland’s largest homelessness charity, said that in 2018, 36,198 households were on the Housing Executive’s waiting list for social housing with over 24,000 considered to be in housing stress. “Across Northern Ireland, it is further estimated that there are between 76,000 and 136,000 adults who can be considered as ‘Hidden Homeless’, and circa 370,000 individuals living in poverty.
“Homeless people face many difficulties with ill health, can be more vulnerable and at risk of early death and we would be supportive of any initiative that helps give homeless people better access to healthcare or removes any barriers they might face” said Mr Dennison.
Notes to editors:
- The conference will take place on: Thursday 17 January 2019 at 10am at Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey BT36 5QA. Interviewees can be arranged. Photographs will be taken.
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