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Award-winning writer Christie Watson explains why she’s returning to frontline nursing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s a contentious notion, but I’ve always thought of nurses as heroes. This situation demonstrates that they are going above and beyond, taking risks, and running towards things, as they always have.

We need nurses now more than ever. There were at least 43,000 nursing vacancies, so although an amazing 5,600 people have already joined the NMC’s emergency COVID-19 register, I can only imagine how stretched we’ll be in the weeks to come.

This is not something I planned for, but I will do whatever is needed, wherever I am needed

What’s pulling me in is partly my experience, which seems relevant to the skills needed right now. I have paediatric critical care and ventilator experience, and have worked on adult crash teams and as an advanced life support instructor. But it is more than that. I feel frightened, but as I watch the bravery of those nurses and student nurses quietly getting on with things, as they always have done, these incredible women and men give me courage.

Watching the situation unravel and escalate on the telly has compelled me to go back out there and get stuck in. I hope I will be a help and not a hinderance. I am rusty and this is not something I planned for or expected, but I will do whatever is needed, wherever I am needed.

This is a dangerous situation for nurses to be going in to. We keep hearing the word “war” and it is a kind of war. But the very fact so many have signed up to return to frontline nursing shows that as a community of heroes, we want to stand side by side and help in any way we can.

Like everybody, I have family to consider and I had to think very carefully about joining the emergency COVID-19 register. After discussing it with family, and previous colleagues and employers, I feel it is the right decision for me.

Everyone has their own decision to make – some people can’t return to work because of health reasons and I’m sure there are many nurses who are desperate to go back but aren’t able to. I feel like I can do it, so I ought to.

This is a community effort. We are all in it together

Right now, I am trying not to get overwhelmed with the news that we are seeing from Italy and other countries. I am focusing on the practical aspects, supporting my colleagues and just doing the best I can.

We all do what we can. Not only are nurses making huge sacrifices, but so too are their families who are holding them up so they can look after patients.

So many people are doing all sorts of things to help their communities and are keeping others safe by staying in. Be proud of everybody, because this is a community effort and a nursing family effort. Now, more than ever, we are all in it together.

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