Editorial

Overwhelmed: how children’s nurses are keeping going despite the constant pressure

A number of concerns are contributing to children’s nurses' anxiety

Concern about parental visiting restrictions, mental health cases, the ‘pingdemic’ effect and the need for a break are contributing to the children's nurses' anxiety

The workforce is tired.

With national restrictions lifted, the effects of track and trace, and the ‘pingdemic’, have prevented a large number of NHS staff from working. This has led to uncertainty and frustration in a workforce that is already stretched.

The system has always been under pressure to deliver appropriate mental health care for children, young people and their families in acute care settings. This has never been the appropriate environment for many of the children and young people concerned. The last 18 months has exacerbated this challenge which, ultimately, affects care outcomes, inpatient capacity, workforce training, staff resilience and

Concern about parental visiting restrictions, mental health cases, the ‘pingdemic’ effect and the need for a break are contributing to the children's nurses' anxiety

Picture: iStock

The workforce is tired.

With national restrictions lifted, the effects of track and trace, and the ‘pingdemic’, have prevented a large number of NHS staff from working. This has led to uncertainty and frustration in a workforce that is already stretched.

The system has always been under pressure to deliver appropriate mental health care for children, young people and their families in acute care settings. This has never been the appropriate environment for many of the children and young people concerned. The last 18 months has exacerbated this challenge which, ultimately, affects care outcomes, inpatient capacity, workforce training, staff resilience and morale.

For the NHS to recover lost activity during the pandemic, a plan has been implemented to increase clinical and elective procedures in organisations experiencing problems with capacity and patient flow.

Some children’s nurses are anxious too. This can be attributed to the effect of the pingdemic or the rise in admissions of young people with respiratory viruses after restrictions were lifted. It could also be due to anticipation of the usual winter viruses or, ultimately, a combination of all three factors after 18 months of uncertainty.

The need to isolate after returning from holiday may also be playing on people’s minds and affecting their morale.

Although national restrictions have lifted, parental visiting in hospitals remains unchanged. The effect of the one-parent visiting policy and other restrictions on children’s nurses and family dynamics should not be underestimated; nor should the amount of support staff and families will require in the future.

Some children and families have been shielding and are socially isolated; they too may be apprehensive and about the lifting of national COVID-19 restrictions.

Life may be returning to normal, but the NHS workforce is tired and under constant pressure. Children’s nurses will continue to provide the best care for young people and their families, but the emotional cost to them is yet to be measured.

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