RCN: Northern Ireland

Education & Societies

FGM protection orders introduced in Northern Ireland

Justice Minister David Ford and Finance Minister Arlene Foster this week announced the introduction of the authority to issue female genital mutilation protection orders [FGMPOs] in Northern Ireland. An FGMPO is an order that can be made to protect a girl from the risk of genital mutilation or a girl against whom such an offence has already been committed.

Breaching an FGMPO is a criminal offence that carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. David Ford said:

“I want to send a clear message that female genital mutilation is a crime. It is a harmful practice that has no place in our society and is a violation of the rights of girls and women. I welcome the added protection these orders will provide and would urge anyone concerned that a young girl or woman may be at risk to please come forward and report it to the PSNI or other relevant authority.”

Arlene Foster said: “The Northern Ireland Executive is committed to eradicating FGM and last year we published multi-agency practice guidelines ( https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/380125/MultiAgencyPracticeGuidelinesNov14.pdf) for those responsible for safeguarding children and protecting adults from such abuse. The introduction of the new civil protection orders is another step in the right direction. We want to build on the good work that has been undertaken to date by further disseminating the zero tolerance message and raising awareness about FGM.” In partnership with the Royal College of Midwives, the RCN in Northern Ireland has been campaigning in recent years to raise awareness amongst health professionals of FGM. RCN guidance is available via the publications section of the RCN website.

Nurses’ voices from the Northern Ireland Troubles

Nurses’ voices from the Northern Ireland Troubles, compiled and edited by Margaret Graham and Professor Jean Orr and published by RCNi, is available for purchase from the Library and Information Zone at the RCN, 17 Windsor Avenue, Belfast BT9 6EE. The paperback edition is available at an offer price of £12.99 (RRP £14.99). A limited number of hardback copies of the book are also still available at an offer price of £20. Payment can be made either by cash or by cheque, made payable to the Royal College of Nursing. The book is also available at Waterstones in Ballymena, Coleraine, Lisburn and Newry, Easons in Belfast, Craigavon, Derry-Londonderry, Lisburn and Newry, and Carlisle Bookshop in Omagh. Alternatively, it can be ordered online or by telephone from RCNi

RCN criticises “shameful” experience of patient awaiting surgery

RCN Northern Ireland Director Janice Smyth was interviewed by BBC Radio Ulster’s The Nolan Show on Wednesday 22 July in relation to a reported 75% increase over the last two years in the number of patients awaiting appointments at Northern Ireland's regional orthopaedics centre at Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast. The BBC highlighted the experiences of a number of patients, including John O’Hagan, 75, who was referred by his GP to a specialist at Musgrave Park Hospital in June 2014. Over one year later, he has been informed that he may not receive an appointment with a back specialist to advise on his surgery until February 2016. In the interim, the BBC reported that Mr O’Hagan’s condition has deteriorated and that he now has trouble walking, sitting and sleeping. Mr O’Hagan told the BBC: “I know they want me to go private - but I don’t have that money. I worked for 50 years, I paid my dues; I shouldn't have to pay for this after all these years.” Janice Smyth described Mr O’Hagan’s experience as “shameful” and “absolutely not acceptable”. She commented: “The Health and Social Care system in Northern Ireland is not working and has not been working for some time. Transforming your Care was supposed to deliver the reform that was needed and it has absolutely failed. The RCN has made it clear for a number of years now that unless we face up to the fact that we couldn’t continue doing what we are doing, then nothing is going to change.” RCN Northern Ireland Deputy Director Garrett Martin was also interviewed by BBC Radio Ulster Evening Extra on Thursday 23 July in relation to the issue, during a debate on whether those with the financial means to access private sector health care should be encouraged to do in order to free capacity within the HSC. Garrett said: “The RCN has no fundamental philosophical objection against private health care. We have many members who practise in private institutions and we represent their interests in the independent sector. The NHS should be there as it funded by public taxation. There should be equality in terms of service delivery, but there has been a failure in planning in terms of the demographic profile. Demand is increasing. There should be some conversations around what is affordable and what isn’t.”