The power of nursing during COVID-19

 Dame Donna Kinnair 7 Jan 2021 Chief Executive and General Secretary

Dame Donna Kinnair shares how the RCN is supporting members through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Power is an abstract concept. But, as nursing staff, we have a responsibility to speak truth to power. And we do that every single day as we advocate for our patients and when we tell others about our experiences in the workplace. I will always support you to share your story and speak up for nursing

I know that you are working through one of the toughest periods our profession has faced. COVID-19 impacts on every aspect of our lives. Whether we are living under new restrictions or working with COVID-19 positive patients - there is an enormous amount of pressure on the health care system, and on you as staff. 

I want to tell you how we are advocating on your behalf with system leaders and those in government. We are demanding answers from the government as you work alongside a new COVID-19 variant. We are pressing for a response to our letter to government ministers and scientists, sent before Christmas, to find out if current PPE is adequate for the new variant and, while more research is carried out, that you are given a higher level of PPE when treating suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. We also want the government to initiate a review of ventilation effectiveness in health and care buildings too. 

Tonight will see the return of the newly termed ‘Clap for Heroes’. I know this public display of support for nursing and health care staff had a positive impact on so many of you during early months of this pandemic in 2020. But we need more than claps from the government - a point I made very clear to the Prime Minister yesterday. I told him that the way to truly thank nursing staff is through fair pay and ensuring there are enough nursing staff in our health care system to safely care for our patients. 

We continue to develop the evidence and guidance you need to deliver care during COVID-19. We’ve updated our position on the COVID-19 vaccination programme, and Helen Donovan, our Professional Lead for Public Health, explained the changes to the vaccination programme this week and what it means for nursing staff.

If you are concerned about a situation in your workplace or if you need up to date clinical information, please visit our website or contact us

Thank you for everything you continue to do for your patients and your colleagues. I will continue to advocate on your behalf with system leaders and the government to make sure you are properly supported in the coming weeks and months too. 

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COVID-19 vaccination 


Dame Donna Kinnair

Dame Donna Kinnair

Chief Executive & General Secretary

Prior to her appointment as Acting Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dame Donna was Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice and worked with UK-wide RCN staff to drive and implement RCN professional nursing, policy and practice strategy.

Before joining the RCN, Donna held various roles, including Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.
Donna advised the PM’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in 2010 and served as nurse/child health assessor to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry.

Page last updated - 07/01/2021