The response of nurses and other healthcare workers to the outbreak of COVID-19 has been celebrated as part of International Nurses Day.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, praised the ‘nightingale effect’ which has seen thousands join the NHS as a result of the pandemic. There were over 11,000 more nurses, midwives and health visitors working in the NHS in England in January than 12 months earlier, bringing the total to a record 330,000 as well as an additional 5,195 healthcare support workers and assistants. There are also record numbers of student nurses entering the profession.
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‘Nurses, healthcare support workers and assistants have been at the forefront of the NHS’s extraordinary response to the coronavirus pandemic. Their skill, professionalism and tireless work has made sure that the NHS treated all those COVID patients who could benefit and millions with other conditions,’ said Sir Simon.
‘Nurses’ dedication has also played a vital part in the hugely successful rollout of the NHS vaccination progamme that has combined speed and precision in a way unrivalled around the world. Of course, nursing is not always easy but it is one of the most rewarding careers you can have so it is no surprise that given the profession’s high profile over the last year many more people have been inspired to join the NHS’s ranks by the so-called Nightingale effect. On International Nurses Day I want to say thank you on behalf of the whole country, to them and to and all their colleagues who have played a part in the remarkable NHS response to COVID.’
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Nurses’ Day is an annual celebration of the nursing profession, held on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. A new RCN poll commissioned as part of the celebration has shown how the pandemic has changed the way the public view nursing staff. More than half of respondents said media coverage of nurses’ work during the pandemic has helped them better understand nurses’ skills. Meanwhile, 71% of people said nurses deserve more recognition.
‘The public has been right behind nursing staff throughout the pandemic and rightly so. Nursing has been on display during the pandemic in ways the public has not seen before. Many of the very same nurses are now leading the rollout of the vaccination programme. I am so proud of what the profession has accomplished at this crucial time,’ said RCN President Professor Dame Anne Marie Rafferty.