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Speak up for nursing – it’s time to tell your story

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  • The media is always interested in news of potential industrial action
  • Who is telling the positive stories about nursing and the contribution it makes
  • Does the government fail to make fair pay awards because it fails to understand the role of nurses in the present day healthcare system?
  • Enter the Nursing Times Awards and tell your stories – because if you don’t, no one else will

Major broadcast media channels gave some coverage yesterday to the Royal College of Nursing’s membership consultation on the government’s continuing capping of nurse pay rises at 1%. The consultation asks RCN members whether they would be prepared to take some form of industrial action in future to get their voice heard on the issue.

Of course, Nursing Times believes that nurses are worth more and deserve more – and that cutting their real-terms pay, as the ongoing 1% salary increase cap does, is unfair and downright dismissive of the value of nurses.

So why does the government continue to sideline nurses and ignore the contribution they make?

“Ministers have said they would rather spend the money on more staff than pay”

It’s as if they don’t comprehend that nurses are even more essential to the provision of healthcare in the current climate than ever before. Ministers have said they would rather spend the money on more staff than pay – but if you increase the latter you are far more likely to get the former. But if you don’t you won’t. Why can no one in charge seem to see this logic?

Ministers – and the public – must also be reminded that the role of nursing has drastically shifted to provide far more complex treatment and involves more clinical decision making, prescribing, diagnosis and care planning – as well as provision of care.

“A group of retired nurses in her local area were badmouthing the current crop of nurses working in her trust”

Recently, a chief nurse of a hospital in the north of England was telling me how a group of retired nurses in her local area were badmouthing the current crop of nurses working in her trust. Those retired nurses felt the nurses who were now working for their former employer weren’t doing as good a job as they had once done. The chief nurse’s answer to this was to invite those retired nurses into her trust to show them just how complex, pressured and challenging the role of a nurse currently is. The retired nurses were forced to agree, and now instead of knocking the present nursing workforce, they have become their advocates.

It occurs to me that if the government understood more about the role, and the devastating effects of its erosion, they might not be so stingy with their pay awards.

“Every year we receive amazing stories of innovative, creative and compassionate service transformation”

Perhaps they should start by looking at some of our entries for the Nursing Times Awards.

Every year we receive amazing stories of innovative, creative and compassionate service transformation that demonstrates just how much value nurses add to the patient, resident or service user.

We are confident that nursing is full of people who do just what our award winners have done – but don’t want to shout about it, because they think it is just “normal”.

Well now is the time to change all that – and be loud and proud of your achievements. If you are a fantastic team, a great manager or have made a huge difference in your clinical specialty, we want to hear from you. We are currently taking in entries for the Nursing Times Awards. The closing date is on June 2, and full details of how you can enter all of our categories is on https://awards.nursingtimes.net.

I urge you to tell your story, boost the morale of your team and make sure your colleagues all know what you have accomplished. Only by telling these stories and creating a narrative for nursing in the present day can you start to correct the misconceptions about nursing. If you do not tell nursing’s story, no one will.

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