Today is a very different world from 13 (or so) weeks ago. I’m saddened to hear of the losses of so many lives due to this pandemic and I’m even more saddened by the deaths of so many health care workers. Our thoughts remain with the families, friends and colleagues of those who have lost their lives under such circumstances.
The RCN has fought for better rights, equipment, PPE, terms and conditions and support during this time. We’ve had a number of victories including the scrapping of the Immigration Heath Surcharge, improved supply of PPE following our Government lobbying and highlighting of the issue via our channels and networks and have supported many students with the transition into the workforce resolving many issues, including those around pay. We also had those who returned to practice and supported them too.
Government has now officially recognised the impact COVID-19 has had on BAME communities and health care workers. A Public Health England report was issued earlier this month which has found that people from BAME groups were most likely to be diagnosed and that death rates from COVID-19 were highest among people of Black and Asian ethnic groups.
Whilst our events for 2020 are now all to be virtual I’m pleased to have been asked to create some virtual content for the third official ‘Windrush Day’ celebration which is taking place in Manchester. Whilst this content was created specifically for the day of celebration, it also carries an important message about keeping safe and reducing the risk of infection which I think is important share with you all.
Nevertheless, it never ceases to surprise me the amount of creativity, thoughtfulness and care you have, especially during times of crisis, putting the needs of others above your own. We’ve seen many of you separated from your families for periods of time, staying in hotels and mobile homes in car parks and even more of you working extra shifts to meet demand. You have shone brightly in this WHO International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and once again, the world has recognised the value of nursing.
Nurses Day in May was a little celebration of all you do. In the region we created a film to thank you for all you do – with some help from some familiar faces. Somehow, a ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem enough which is why our campaigning and your powerful stories and involvement is important. Ministers have had to sit up and are listening – the public are calling you heroes - so now is the time to galvanise support. For too long this profession has been undervalued and over-worked.
Pay will be our next challenge and I thank those of you who took the time to complete our all member survey recently. This closed on 16 June and we await the results in the coming weeks, once analysed.
Keep safe, keep well, keep positive.