As the year comes to an end, so too does my time as President of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. It has been a privilege and an honour to hold this esteemed position and I am optimistic as I now handover to a new President in 2023.
I am proud of what we have achieved for nurses and midwives, and the wider healthcare sector during my 10 years on the Board, and having served as President for the past seven years.
As a registered nurse, my aim was to ensure that we always had our registrants and the need to protect people using services at the heart of all decisions we made as a Board. I am delighted to say that I believe we achieved that.
Throughout my time on the Board, the organisation has been on a journey of transformation. At the time of my joining, the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011 had come into effect which saw the establishment of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland to replace An Bord Altrainis and made a number of changes to our role as the regulator of the professions, including reducing the size of the Board from 29 to 23 persons with a lay majority. It also recognised nursing and midwifery as two distinct professions for the first time in Ireland, and we have strived to protect and promote those two professions. We have adapted our complaints process to allow faster initial screening of complaints and to speed up the scheduling of fitness to practise inquiries. We digitised the annual registration renewal process to make it easier for registrants and to obtain critical data and information on the over 84,000 registered nurses and midwives in Ireland. We have trialed new initiatives to process applications as quickly as possible. We have also regularly updated and revised our Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics to ensure it continues to provide the professions with the most up-to-date legislative and guidance changes. We continue to work with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to implement the recent findings of the Expert Review Body on Nursing and Midwifery.
My proudest moment however was how we, as a healthcare community, pulled together and adapted to Covid-19. Nurses and midwives ran towards the pandemic, using their skills to provide essential care in difficult conditions, leading the rollout of the vaccination programmes, and upskilling where necessary to take on expanded roles. Students were supported to complete their nursing and midwifery programmes and achieve registration. I want to sincerely thank our registered nurses and our registered midwives for their incredible contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic, their dedication to patient care and to supporting our students during their clinical placements during the challenging times.
During all of this, NMBI’s Board remained focused on our role in providing leadership and ensuring we regulated effectively. The pandemic has shown what we can achieve when we work together and I hope that this collaboration continues in the future.
There have been 100 years of professional regulation for nurses and midwives in Ireland, and I believe that we can have pride in our professions, and pride in being one of the longest professionally regulated group. This allows the Board of NMBI to continue to ensure we can adapt to the evolving healthcare environment both globally and locally, and regulate effectively, while upholding the highest standards in education, training and professional conduct.
I would urge all nurses and midwives to get involved in the work of NMBI. You have so much to contribute either at Board, committee or staff level. Your skills, knowledge and experience are valuable to informing everything that we do, and it has been one of the proudest achievements of my career to date to serve as President.
I would like to thank all of our registrants for what they do on a daily basis throughout our healthcare services. I would also like to thank the Board and committee members, past and present, and all of our stakeholders who it has been a pleasure to work alongside over the past 10 years. 2022 sees a change in Board membership as 11 members go out of office with me and I would like to thank them for their outstanding contribution to the work of the Board. I extend a warm welcome to the new members who will join the Board and wish them every success as they settle into their roles on the Board. Finally, a huge thank you to our CEO Sheila McClelland, the management team and the staff of NMBI who have supported the Board to complete our work, and for the dedication to your roles and to the organisation.
I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.