The Queen’s Nursing Institute held its first online conference over five days from 19 to 23 October 2020.

The event was attended by over 1500 community nurses and other health professionals from countries including Nigeria, Switzerland, The United States, Liberia, Poland, Norway, Ireland, Japan, Singapore and other nations as well as those of the United Kingdom.

Over fifty speakers presented at the event, including the Chief Nursing Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and of Public Health England. International perspectives were provided by Howard Catton of the International Council of Nurses and by Lord Nigel Crisp (pictured), speaking about the legacy of the Nursing Now campaign.

Jo Churchill MP, Parliamentary-under-Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, Department of Health and Social Care, gave a recorded address to the delegates in which she thanked them for their dedication and achievements in the first wave of the pandemic and exhorted nurses to ‘take care of themselves’ as they continue to serve the NHS and protect the health of the population and their local communities.

George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme, the largest single funder of the QNI and other nursing charities, spoke about the recent and continuing challenges of the pandemic. He spoke about the unique contribution of the voluntary sector in providing effective, dynamic and innovative healthcare in the UK, and the forthcoming research to be published by the charity later this year.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chair of the Health Foundation’s Covid-19 Impact Inquiry and Dr Mehrunisha Suleman spoke about the inquiry, which is now gathering evidence. They outlined the significant and deep rooted health inequalities that have been brought into sharper focus by the impact of the pandemic, and the plans to influence policy and practice in addressing these by publishing the evidence within the report. Community nurses were warmly encouraged to submit their evidence to the inquiry, which will be a significant part of the overall findings.

A full list of speakers is given in the delegate guide (https://www.qni.org.uk/news-and-events/events/qni-annual-conference-2020/ ).

The Conference also saw the launch of the QNI’s latest District Nurse Education Report, covering the academic year 2018-19. The report showed a substantial rise in the number of nurses undertaking the District Nurse Specialist Practitioner Qualification in all countries of the United Kingdom. The rise was warmly welcomed by speakers and delegates. (https://www.qni.org.uk/news-and-events/news/rising-numbers-of-students-taking-district-nurse-spq-across-the-uk-qni-study-finds/ ).

Delegate feedback from the event was outstanding and proved that an online conference can offer a rich learning experience for health professionals, as well as offering authentic social interaction among delegates. We were particularly struck by the way in which delegates were able to connect in such an immediate way via the chat box, which is not possible during a physical conference session.

I would like to thank all the speakers and delegates for their contributions throughout the five days and the QNI staff team for creating the event experience for all. I would also like to thank QNI Chair of Trustees Dr John Unsworth who chaired several sessions of the event, the many QNI Trustees who supported us throughout the week and our sponsors Hallam Medical and Teva UK, without whose support we would not have been able to host such an ambitious event.

Dr Crystal Oldman CBE

The conference sessions were widely covered in the nursing and healthcare press, including the announcement of additional funding to support the mental health of nurses as the Covid-19 pandemic enters the second wave. Nurses were warned to prepare for a third and a fourth wave, with the undertaking that this will only be possible if staff resilience is supported effectively.

The conference presentations and summary notes can be downloaded from the QNI’s website: https://www.qni.org.uk/news-and-events/events/qni-annual-conference-2020/ .

‘I thought the conference was excellent - beautifully choreographed and strong content.’

‘The QNI has always inspired, but during the last turbulent months, the steadying influence and support to all nurses has been phenomenal. The conference has been so important, the range of speakers, the topics but most importantly the ‘togetherness’ for all of us. Thank you.’

‘The QNI is raising the bar for virtual events. By far the best I’ve attended.’

‘This week’s QNI conference has really helped to keep me (and I’m sure many others) going during what I can only describe as one of the most challenging and busy times throughout my career. It has been a stark reminder of what is important:
Maintaining high standards of care
Listening to and understanding patients’ needs
Doing the right thing
Working with pride
Support and alliance
Sharing and learning from experience
I have attended many conferences over the years and this was by far THE BEST! The online interaction and presentations were absolutely spot on.’

Conference Delegates
Saying thank you with British Sign Language

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