Last night at the Nursing Times Awards we paid tribute to the 11 trusts that received the victims of the terror attacks in Westminster, London Bridge and Manchester.
Many of the nurses that we have spoken to who cared for victims of the terror attacks told us they saw things they had never seen before – particularly in Manchester on 22 May where the wounds were described to us as akin to things you would see in a war zone.
When incidents like these happen, or the fire at Grenfell, those hospitals that are trauma centres have to rally and accept patients in greater volume than they are used to, and often with injuries they are unused to seeing in such numbers.
Nurses spoke of the images of those patients they saw staying with them forever, and of finishing their shifts and going home to cry.
“Tragically, one of the trust’s nurses – Kirsty Boden – also paid the ultimate price and lost her life”
Guy’s and St Thomas’ twice had terror attacks on its doorstep – and as others ran from Westminster Bridge on 22 March, its nursing staff ran towards the patients with towels to help to try and offer them help, which was rightly lauded by the national media.
Tragically, one of the trust’s nurses – Kirsty Boden – also paid the ultimate price and lost her life while looking after the victims of the terror attack on London Bridge on 3 June.
But it is not just those nurses working in the trauma centres that must rise to the challenge. Neighbouring hospitals have worked hard to free up beds so that other patients from the hospitals receiving the casualties of the major incident can be moved there.
What is also vital is the work of mental health nurses, bereavement counselling services and other support services that help heal not just the physical scars but the emotional and mental wounds inflicted during these dreadful events.
“It may be just doing their jobs, it may be what many of them feel they trained for – but these are extraordinary times”
What we’ve seen in the London and Manchester terror attacks is the NHS at its very best – collaborating, calm and professional – when it was already under immense pressure.
The special awards we gave to each trust involved is clearly disproportionate to the huge sacrifice, courage and effort that has been made by nurses and the teams who have seen so much and given so much. A trophy hardly seems to convey the immense pride we have in this bit of the profession or be in any way enough to say thank you for the brave and tireless work they do.
But it seemed fitting that, as we celebrated the achievements of this year’s 2017 Nursing Times Awards winners for their teamwork, skills and innovations that are making care safer and better, we paid tribute to those nurses who have done something amazing.
It may be just doing their jobs, it may be what many of them feel they trained for – but these are extraordinary times, and to do the day job takes an extraordinary nurse.
So, to all the nurses and teams involved in looking after patients of these attacks – and all the organisations who supported them – thank you. I hope you know how much the public and we at Nursing Times appreciate your bravery and selflessness – and most of all your skill and professionalism when we need it most.