I met a nurse at the Nursing Times Awards earlier this month. She was a continence nurse specialist and had started working for the West Midlands trust she still works at today in 1970. She told her chief nurse that coming to the awards event, even though she didn’t actually win, was the pinnacle of her career.
I heard that and it reminded me of what one of the judges said to me during the judging panel process. Their point was that it was a shame that nurses just don’t know they are doing a good job – and that we need this process to tell them.
”It matters to have someone say ’you’re good at what you do’”
There has been so much talk of nurses leaving the register – from the UK and the EU – that we have forgotten that there are huge numbers of nurses who have loyally given service to the NHS for their entire career. For many, their lives have been dedicated to serving patients and users of health services – and they have never expected to bask in the glory of an awards evening as a result.
I’ve been to lots of awards ceremonies in my career – I’ve hosted quite a few, I’ve been shortlisted for a few awards and the team and I at Nursing Times have won a few. But no awards ceremony in the world feels as good as the Nursing Times Awards. There’s more dancing, a bigger queue for the photo booth and more clamouring for the spotlight in the karaoke bar than anywhere else – but there are also more tears, pride and emotion because winning an award matters to nurses. It matters to have someone say “you’re good at what you do”.
All too often, the service forgets to do it.
If year after year, the government says it can’t afford to give you a pay rise or train more nurses so that you can do the job you do both safely and well, you can understand why some nurses feel like they don’t matter.
What’s special about the Nursing Times Awards is that they say to all nurses: “You matter, and thank you.”
But it shouldn’t just be for that one night only.
As we head into arguably the most difficult period of the year for many nurses working in hospitals and GP practices, it is time to express our gratitude to all nurses – wherever they work. I hope you know how appreciated you are by us, your patients and service users. Thank you.