Judith Wills, a neurosurgical nurse at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, became the UK’s representative to the new WFNN and in 1975 she organised a meeting in Oxford to discuss the possibility of a European association. I attended that meeting and came out as the chairman of the EANN steering committee! Four years later in Paris, I was honoured to be elected the EANN’s first Chairman but we must not forget that Judith Wills called that meeting even though she played no further active part in its development.
The first EANN congress was held in Paris and the papers given were on the Management of Head Injuries, neurological assessment and intracranial pressure monitoring. Compared with the programme offered at the Manchester Congress in 2019 it may seem very tame but it was the beginning. It was for many the first time they had presented at an international conference. There were 86 delegates from 14 countries . There was one representative from Italy, Julita Sansoni who went on to be a member of the Board of Directors of the International Council of Nurses.
In 1975, those present at that pivotal meeting in the Examination rooms in Oxford were all nurses passionate about neurosurgical nursing and a desire to embrace the opportunities offered by European Economic Community. Many in the room that day had either experienced the Second World War personally or had been born and brought up just after it ended. There was a feeling that we wanted to talk to each other as neurosurgical nurses and help in some small way to heal those wounds and move on. Everyone who attended the first congress in Paris was a pioneer not just the Executive Committee and Board of Directors.
Over the past forty years EANN has embraced other neuroscience specialities in nursing. It has seen so many developments in society and in the neurosciences particularly in technology. Computerised tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography, the Internet , mobile phones and data projection are just a few examples.
- 1980 – The EANN Operating Theatre Nurses Subcommittee and the EANN Education and Training Subcommittee were founded. A bibliography was also set up.
- 1982 – First edition of Euro Neuro News.
- 1985 – EANN membership extended to Neuromedical Nurses. EANN becomes the European Association of Neuroscience Nurses.
- 1986 – The E.A.N.N Research Scholarship and the EANN Operating Theatre Nurses Travel Scholarship was launched.
- 1987 – 3rd European Congress in London, England.
- 1991 – 4th European Congress in Zurich, Switzerland.
- 1995 – 5th European Congress in Uppsala.
Conferences and meetings continue to give members an opportunity to meet and discuss current developments within their work.
To me, being involved in international neuroscience nursing organisations has been like the Olympic Games. It is the chance to assess your national and personal neuroscience nursing progress in relation to other countries. There are achievements to be proud of and areas for improvement as nursing evolves. I hope that the next forty years will be as exciting for European neuroscience nurses and the EANN as the last have been.