In the next couple of days, one of the most inspiring months of the year begins for us here at Nursing Times.
September is when we start the second stage of judging for the Nursing Times Awards, and this means a stream of finalists will come through our doors to tell the judging panels about their projects that are improving patient experience, safety and outcomes.
I wish some of the more negative national media, who are so critical of nurses and the care they provide, could meet just a fraction of those finalists.
They would find that far from the uncaring, uncompassionate and unsympathetic portrait they often tend to paint, nurses are inspiring and innovative. And they’d also find that the profession is often the reason that, despite hefty cuts to their numbers and resourcing, the health service continues to provide a more patient-focused and safe environment.
Nurses continue to think about their patients first. They build services around them. They create a world where the patients – and their relatives – are king, despite often being short of both staff and money. Nurses are the masters at doing more with less.
But that doesn’t mean that the government should continue to eat into their numbers – counter-intuitively hoping that yet more cuts will deliver even greater innovation.
For while austerity can breed creative solutions and innovation, it can also breed danger. Cut too far and you put patient safety at risk. Cutting into the nursing numbers as we have seen yet again in recent weeks is not something that will create a safer culture.
There is a lot to be learned from the Nursing Times Awards shortlist – in particular that it’s not all doom and gloom, and that fantastic, innovative care really does exist. But we must still remind the government that nursing cannot continue to demonstrate the compassionate values or produce creative solutions to care if they constantly face moving goalposts.
It is time to wake up and realise that if you want great care and safe care, you need adequate numbers of nurses to provide it.
For more information on the Nursing Times Awards, or to book a seat or table, see www.ntawards.co.uk.