I am new to healthcare. I joined Nursing Times in the summer, having spent most of my career working for a TV corporation. My main role is helping to develop Nursing Times’ digital platforms and, to do so, it’s essential that I learn as much as I possibly can about the nursing profession.
What I have discovered so far has shocked me.
The depth of the issues affecting nurses simply don’t make the news outside of the sector itself. Sure, there’s a vague awareness of the pay cap stuff, and maybe some people are aware that there are staff shortages – but as with many of the issues that threaten our way of life, the public doesn’t take notice until it hits them hard enough, or it has made the (web) pages of the national press.
There are few professions that garner instant respect, but those in healthcare and the emergency services are probably top of the list.
Before joining Nursing Times, I thought that nurses would know that the general public were largely in awe of the lengths you’re willing to go to in order to carry out your day jobs.
“Unless the nursing profession is given the respect it already knows it deserves, we are all going to suffer as a result.”
However, it seems to me that, not only is this not entirely clear, but the general public need to do more than simply be impressed, and start getting behind the rallying cries for better treatment of NHS staff.
The public also need to understand that the nursing shortage is going to hit them very hard, very soon.
I have plenty of experience of seeing nurses in action. Having seen my own father deteriorate over a short period in hospital three years ago, I am well aware of how important the nursing care he was given was.
He received a weekly visit from a largely distracted doctor, but every other moment was defined by the care the nurses gave him as he slowly ebbed away.
Sadly, there were times when nurses simply weren’t on hand to help him, given their workload, and instead, assistance was often delivered by the catering team – a group of well-meaning, overseas contractors who did their best not only to perform their duties, but to also help out when nobody else was around.
“I hope nurses understand that they are appreciated… I want to help raise your issues, so the public can help to do something about it.”
I fear it will take experiences like mine for everyone outside of healthcare to wake up to the idea that, unless the nursing profession is given the respect it already knows it deserves, we are all going to suffer as a result.
If there’s one thing that we can be sure of, it’s that each and every one of us is going to rely on the NHS – and nurses and the wider nursing family – at some point in our lives.
Having promoted TV shows and movies for much of my career, I feel honoured to now be involved in promoting causes that have meaning beyond popcorn entertainment.
Even if the ripples I make are tiny, I am proud to say I am trying. I hope nurses understand that they are appreciated, but rather than keep telling you, I want to help raise your issues, so the public can help to do something about it.