Editorial

Plenty to be proud of despite difficult times

Not a day goes by without another story about the crisis in the NHS, yet nurses continue to find the energy to provide excellent care.
Elaine_Cole©DG_163.jpg

Not a day goes by without another story about the crisis engulfing the NHS.

It makes for consistently grim reading. Our health service is performing at its worst ever levels against emergency department and cancer targets. Leaked figures show waiting times are the longest in 13 years. Staff shortages remain deeply worrying and attacks on staff are increasing. Morale is being battered by this increasingly impossible environment, compounded by a scandalous pay restraint that has effectively cut nurse wages by 14% since 2010 and left them struggling to pay for heating and food.

And yet there is so much to be proud of. Somehow nurses continue to find the energy for clinical excellence and compassionate care. This is demonstrated by the hundreds of entries to the 2017 RCNi Nurse Awards, the shortlist for which will be announced on Friday. It has been near-impossible to choose between inspirational nurses

Not a day goes by without another story about the crisis engulfing the NHS.

It makes for consistently grim reading. Our health service is performing at its worst ever levels against emergency department and cancer targets. Leaked figures show waiting times are the longest in 13 years. Staff shortages remain deeply worrying and attacks on staff are increasing. Morale is being battered by this increasingly impossible environment, compounded by a scandalous pay restraint that has effectively cut nurse wages by 14% since 2010 and left them struggling to pay for heating and food.

And yet there is so much to be proud of. Somehow nurses continue to find the energy for clinical excellence and compassionate care. This is demonstrated by the hundreds of entries to the 2017 RCNi Nurse Awards, the shortlist for which will be announced on Friday. It has been near-impossible to choose between inspirational nurses and healthcare assistants at every level, all of whom are focused on caring for their patients and making improvements, often with limited resources.

‘Superhuman staff’

This week Sir Robert Francis hit the nail on the head by pointing out that the NHS is only continuing to function because of its ‘superhuman staff’. One example of staff going above and beyond can be found on our Facebook page, in the moving testimony of a 93-year-old man admitted to hospital and unable to visit his wife, who had dementia, in her care home. Nurses went the extra mile so he could spend one last, precious night with his wife of 69 years before she died.

The commitment of nurses enables the government to take them for granted, but they cannot struggle on forever. A Nursing Standard investigation last month showed a surge in NHS staff wanting to retire, and if the pay squeeze continues others will decide to put themselves and their families first. The government must take action now to reward staff fairly, or lose them. Because it is clear that in these extreme times, patients need them more than ever.

The Nurse Awards shortlist will be announced here on Friday.

Help for you

We are making our Mindfulness series free to access until 21 February. In addition, RCNi has a wide range of support to help subscribers through tough times. For advice, including on how to cope with pressure and stress, build resilience in yourself and your team, refuse excessive overtime and cope with staff shortages, see the links below.

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs