Uniting Europe’s OH nurses

The
first of many regular features providing information and updates on the work of
FOHNEU and OH nursing in Europe, by Cynthia Atwell & Bernadette Jackson

FOHNEU
is the Federation of Occupational Health Nurses within the European Union.

It
was set up in 1993 when UK occupational health nurses (OHNs) organised a
symposium, supported by a grant obtained for the European Week of Health and
Safety, and invited OHN representatives from the then 12 member states to
attend.

After
much deliberation, it was agreed that closer co-operation was needed and thus
FOHNEU was born. Membership is open to all national OH nursing groups in the
Europe Union (EU) and now represents around 45,000 OHNs in the EU. Each member
state is allowed to have two representatives as board members.

Board
members are nominated by their country’s national associations, and, in the UK,
this is through the RCN’s OH European group. This group consists of nominated
representatives, who are already elected members of the various UK RCN OH
forums. They are: Cynthia Atwell and Fiona Colegrave, RCN SOHN; Bernadette
Jackson and Anne Henderson, RCN OHMF; Irene Bonnar and Maureen McBain, RCN
Scottish Forum for OHNs; Agatha Lions, RCN Northern Ireland SOHN; Lynda
Mulqueen, RCN Welsh OH Forum; and Carol Bannister, RCN OH adviser.

A
chair and vice-chair are elected by the group and are the two UK board members
on FOHNEU.

Cynthia
Atwell is the new chair and Bernadette Jackson vice-chair. The previous
representatives were Charles Graham and Daphne Bagley, who have recently
retired from the group.

Aims
of FOHNEU


To ensure OHNs are competent and fully equipped to contribute to the health,
safety and well-being of the EU’s working population


To encourage OHNs to carry out research in areas of practice, education and
management and to publish results


To establish links and networking opportunities between OH and safety
practitioners in different countries so that they can support each other


To share ideas and best practice in order to provide cost effective, quality
healthcare for all EU businesses


To maintain open dialogue and support the EU organisations responsible for
health and safety, as well as nursing authorities


Ensure the OHN’s role in workplace health and safety is recognised by
governments, employers and workers’ representatives.

Present
activities and initiatives

An
OHN core curriculum has been developed and will be published shortly. It is
intended to provide a basic framework for education and training of nurses
working in occupational healthcare settings, within the EU.

The
core curriculum content aims to standardise OHN knowledge throughout the EU,
particularly in countries where no programme exists. Although the course is
offered at a postgraduate level, the core curriculum alone does not provide a
formal specialist qualification, and it may be developed at different levels of
profoundness, according to the needs of the country. The core curriculum is
intended to be a guide for OH nurse education and training within Europe.

FOHNEU
is also developing a website, www.fohneu.org, which should be fully up and
running within the next few months.

The
executive board

The
executive board is elected by FOHNEU members for a period of three years and
has the overall responsibility for its management and direction.

There
is a constitution, which was amended and approved in June 2001, that sets out
the overall aims and objectives, membership, finances, board meetings,
liabilities and responsibilities.

The
present executive board comprises: president Julie Staun, Denmark;
vice-president Anne Bostrom, Finland; secretary Bonny van der Wolf,
Netherlands, and treasurer Dirk Vermeulen, Belgium.

FOHNEU
meetings are held bi-annually. The next FOHNEU board meeting will be held
during the congress (see box).

We
will do our best to keep you informed of FOHNEU activities, as well as consult
with you on issues for debate.

Occupational
Health plans to have a regular slot for European activities and other FOHNEU
members will be contributing.

FOHNEU
executive board to meet in Helsinki

FOHNEU
is holding the 3rd International Congress in Helsinki, Finland, on 25-27
September 2003.

The
theme is ‘Connecting Minds – Sharing the Vision’. There will be papers
presented by OH nurses from all over Europe and topics will include audit,
rehabilitation, sickness absence management and stress, with the aim of
encouraging innovations in occupational health and safety practice, and there
will also be poster presentations. More information is available on the
Congress website: www.stthl/fohneucongr2003.

Join
us in Helsinki for what will be an informative and thought-provoking congress,
and will give you the opportunity to network with colleagues from the rest of
Europe.

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