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What do nurses want for Christmas?

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Roy Lilley Roy Lilley, independent NHS commentator and founder of the Academy of Fabulous Stuff

I’m nervous. They asked me to write about nursing for Christmas.

Ok, how do I approach this?

What do nurses want for Xmas… might be a start? Louis Vuitton? Harley Davison? Be careful what you wish for.

Don’t ask the Christmas Fairy for a rota with no gaps. It might mean you’re the one filling the gaps…

Probably a pay-rise is the right answer!

I could talk about nursing being the most trusted profession. But, you know that already.

Perhaps, I should develop the thought that nursing is a profession that can open a door on the world. No, I guess, right now, it doesn’t really feel like that.

Of course there is the elephant-in-the-room question; where are all the nurses?

There are some 600,000 on the NMC register but only about 300,000 work in the NHS. Who knows the trick to get them back?

In November we discovered more nurses were leaving than joining. Apparently, one in five new nurses leave in their first year of practice. You don’t want to hear that.

We are told there are 90,000 vacancies across the NHS. The truth? We don’t know. Vacancies are counted by adding-up the number of adverts for nurses on the NHS job-website. One advert might disguise five vacancies.

The more I think about nursing the more I realise, I have no idea what to write. Nursing is a complete conundrum and that is because there is no such thing as a nurse.

There are people who become nurses, people who stay being a nurse and some that don’t.

There are men and women who come to work and leave behind houses, flats and bed-sits. They go home to families, children, partners, lovers or an empty room. Then they start the day over with family chores or study… or both.

Some will go home and the front door will burst open with love, light and laughter. Some will put the key in the door, turn on the light and head for the fridge.

Some will be met by a bark, the moment familiar footsteps are recognised.

Some will be schmoozed by a furry friend, winding their way around their legs, the moment the fridge-light comes on.

Some will fall asleep wrapped in the arms of someone who loves them. Others will reach out to the empty space next to them and fall asleep wondering what might have been.

All of them will get up and do it all again the next day, and the next, and the next.

Each of them different. Each of them with their own, personal reason for being a nurse. For so many, it’s a family affair; mum, aunty, granny before them.

For some it will be a new and lonely path into a new life.

There are not 300,000 nurses, there are that many individuals, people with a story to tell, with experiences to share. Each with their own painful memories and happy stories.

What do nurses want? Who knows. What do the nurses we admire and work with, want? I’d guess, what we all want… someone to listen to them.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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