Royal College of Nursing calls for care for those who have been caring

By agency reporter
June 20, 2020

As 100 days passed since the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called on the UK governments to “care for those who have been caring”. 

The RCN has set out a package of eight key priorities for the short term, titled Committing to Safe Rebuilding of Health and Social Care Services, which it says are vital for the safety of health care staff and the general public following the initial peak of the pandemic, and as a wider range of health services resume.

Two of the priorities focus on the need for a supportive and considered approach to the mental health of nursing staff and other health care workers from governments, agencies and employers, including the NHS.

As part of this package, the RCN is calling for all employers to make available and fund timely access to confidential counselling and psychological support for all staff, as well as support for nursing staff health and wellbeing.

Many health and social care staff have worked in particularly stressful, exhausting and traumatic environments, while the backlog of postponed treatment will place great strain on services and, therefore, staff.

The effects of pressures on staff have already started  For example, the ICON survey of 4,063 members of the nursing and midwifery workforce, led by academics and NHS staff from across the UK and published by King’s College London on 21 May, found that 88 per cent continue to worry about risks to family members during COVID-19 due to their clinical role. Respondents also reported ongoing depression, anxiety, stress and emerging signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The RCN makes six more calls on all UK governments, relevant agencies and employers from committing to full risk assessments to ensuring nurse leaders are equipped to futureproof infection control and critical care capabilities. 

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: “Nursing staff and other care workers across the UK have shown remarkable leadership professionalism and commitment. But as we move past the peak of the epidemic, we must care for those who’ve been caring.

“It is vital that our governments and employers, including the NHS, take steps now to protect our health and social care services and staff, who have done such remarkable work at a time of crisis.

"The weekly clapping may have stopped, but the practical measures needed to fully support our health care staff are only just beginning.”

* Read Committing to Safe Rebuilding of Health and Social Care Services here

* Royal College of Nursing https://www.rcn.org.uk/

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