12 May 2022
International Nurses Day: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and Respect Rights to Secure Global Health
International Nurses Day happens each year on 12th May, marking Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The theme this year is ‘A Voice to Lead – Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health’. Chief Executive of the International Council of Nurses, Howard Catton, recently spoke to the Nursing Times about this year’s theme and what it means. ““The pandemic has shown us only too clearly that we need a real investment in the profession of nursing in order to secure global health. And nurses’ rights, safety and wellbeing must be protected as well. The nursing shortage is a serious threat to public health and must be addressed now.”
During the pandemic, frontline NHS staff including nurses worked tirelessly to treat patients in the most grueling of circumstances. Wearing head-to-toe PPE for more than 12 hours at a time and treating people trying to fight a frightening and unknown virus has left many nurses with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems including stress, anxiety, and depression. “Recent research indicates that healthcare workers and first responders are displaying post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms like veterans who served in combat,” reveals an article by The Guardian.
The International Council of Nurses
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) will publish a report on International Nurses Day to outline what must be done to ‘invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health,’ ensuring this year’s theme not only raises awareness of issues faced by nursing, but that actionable steps can be taken to make necessary changes.
“It’s important to take care of and think of healthcare workers because they matter as people, and also it has really significant implications for our healthcare system...You actually can’t protect your healthcare system without protecting the workers.” says Dr Rebecca Hendrickson, clinical psychiatrist and lead researcher of a new study on healthcare workers.
Over Half of Nurses Considering Leaving Their Jobs
A recent employment survey of over 9,500 nurses suggests that over 50% are considering or planning to quit their jobs following the pandemic, and almost 70% said they felt under too much pressure to work. The main reason cited for leaving their roles were that staff felt ‘undervalued’ and ‘under too much pressure.’
“All nursing staff need funded and supported time out – not limited to annual leave – regardless of which setting they work in” says RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen. She goes on to say, “nursing undoubtedly has the potential to be a hugely rich and satisfying career, but with tens of thousands of nursing jobs unfilled the situation is unsustainable... Proper mental and psychological support services need to be made available.”
It’s evident that the pandemic has taken a huge toll on nurses over the past 2 years and highlighting the need for change with this year’s International Nursing Day theme is a step in the right direction in allowing nurses to heal and supporting them in being able to continue in their careers.
The Royal College of Nursing will be celebrating International Nurses Day with a social media campaign entitled #BestOfNursing. They’ll be sharing case studies about “positive difference made by nursing staff” and are asking for nurses and healthcare professionals to share their stories using the hashtag.
“Nurses’ Day, on 12 May 2022, is an opportunity to showcase the amazing work of our members and to say thank you to nursing staff across the UK,” Pat Cullen. “Despite working through challenging circumstances, nursing staff around the world continue to go above and beyond to deliver highly skilled, safety-critical care to patients every single day.”
Highlighting positive experiences and good news stories is an essential part of International Nursing Day. Amid so much anxiety and stress, a community celebrating their wins will go a long way in showcasing the strength and passion that every single nurse possesses. Our nurses are absolutely integral to our national health service, and they need to be celebrated not just by those in healthcare, but by each and every one of us who rely so heavily on the NHS and the care the service its nurses provide.