The Nursing Times Awards once again inspired and delighted.
The room erupted into a standing ovation for Nurse of the Year Lorraine Burgess, a Macmillan nurse, from The Christie Foundation Trust. There were gasps as Chief Nursing Officers’ Lifetime Achievement Award winner Professor Donna Mead OBE recounted how, after achieving nine O levels, she told her teacher she wanted to be a nurse and the teacher said “I wash my hands of you” because going into nursing was “a waste”. And there were appreciative nods when Professor Jean White, CNO for Wales, spoke of a nurse in rural Wales who found out women got most of their health advice from their hairdresser - so the nurse arranged a health training programme for hairdressers. That sort of innovation, dedication and unrelenting passion for nursing warmed the hearts of everyone in the room.
At the end of the night, someone cried when they recounted to me how the evening had made them feel. Such is the power of nursing. And yet, that power is taken for granted.
I called for the blanket 1% pay rise in my speech that night, and Gail Adams, head of nursing at Unison, echoed my thoughts when she presented the Team of the Year award to George Eliot Hospital with her co-sponsor Ruth Warden from NHS Employers. Gail took a selfie on stage with the room full of nurses and said she would tweet it to the health secretary to urge him to reconsider his pay decision.
Will he take notice? It seems unlikely, but one could hope. It seems ridiculous anyone witnessing the energy, compassion and skills of over 1,000 nurses in the room, would deny them all a 1% pay rise
Also it seems ridiculous that he can see the tangible difference nurses make to services, saving money and lives, and yet you continue to cut their numbers. Our news story on the latest fi gures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show nursing numbers in acute trusts have fallen for the second month in a row (see page 2). Trusts are fi nding it a challenge to recruit more nurses, maybe because of poor workforce planning, or maybe because it proves so diffi cult to retain your workforce in these circumstances.
Jeremy Hunt should recognise if he wants the safe care he keeps claiming to advocate, it needs investment. And there is no better place to invest than in the team that makes sure the NHS is safe. The Nursing Times Awards proves that. Why can’t he look at that evidence base and decide his return on investment in this area would be well worth it?
Jenni Middleton, editor
email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed