‘Firefighting to keep kids safe’: winter pressures and child care
It will be a difficult time for children’s nurses, where many in the UK will be taking industrial action, while striving to provide the best possible care
Winter is here and, as usual, things are hectic. Political and economic unrest are rife, the cost of living and energy prices continue to rise, and annual respiratory viruses have arrived.
The effect of all this on children, young people and their families has yet to be determined, but it is likely to be significant. For example, households with children whose health depends on technology are seeing energy bills skyrocket, with little relief in sight.
As children’s nurses we know that poverty contributes to poor mental health and exacerbates chronic conditions. These, in turn, lead to an increased reliance on the healthcare sector.
Mental health needs and respiratory illness
The rates of admission for children and young people with acute mental health needs are higher than ever. At the same time, younger children are presenting with respiratory illnesses that are seen at this time every year. The pressure on the system is relentless.
The NHS continues to strive to cope, and has activated plans to ensure children and young people receive the care they require at the time they need it, despite the challenges. This care is delivered by dedicated healthcare professionals and a wider nursing workforce, who have agreed – for the first time ever in most of the UK – to take industrial action.
For most nurses caring for children and young people, this action is about more than pay. It is about safer staffing ratios; it is about taking the breaks they are entitled to and not paid for when working a 12.5 hour shift; it is about being able to do a job they love to the best of their ability, not simply firefighting to keep kids safe.
Children’s nurses and healthcare professionals are working tirelessly to ensure they provide the best and safest care. It is time to support those who make up this incredible workforce, and to safeguard their wellbeing so they can continue caring for children and young people
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