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South East nurses: scared but putting patients first

1 Apr 2020

The Royal College Of Nursing in the South East has seen the number of members contacting them for advice skyrocket in recent days.

The College runs a daily helpline for members, but over recent days the number of calls received in the South East have been at an all-time high.

Patricia Marquis, South East Regional Director says: “The calls are heart-breaking. Members are desperate to do the best for their patients but are scared about the risks they are personally facing. Members are facing some impossible decisions between their own or their family’s health and their sense of duty. The calls we have been receiving around personal protective equipment (PPE) have been challenging. Members are sharing equipment, buying their own supplies or reusing single use PPE. It is increasingly obvious that there simply isn’t enough stock in some places especially in social care settings. There remains confusion around PPE with the current guidance from Public Health England at odds with the advice given by the World Health Organization. We are expecting revised guidance today and seeking urgent clarity from the Government and Health and Safety Executive.

“We have members in nursing homes who are self-isolating but not being paid; members who are stranded overseas unable to access any flights to get home who are being told by their employer they will face disciplinary action if they are not in work; pregnant women who are being told there is nowhere to redeploy them so they will be forced to start their maternity leave early.

“We have also heard from a huge number of employers who are pulling out all the stops to make sure staff and patients have everything they need at this time. There are some pockets of excellent practice out there. There are also huge numbers of retired members and students who are willingly coming into the workplace to support the effort. So many nurses are going above and beyond by working in areas they wouldn’t usually work in and offering their skills and expertise. Nurses have always been amazing, more so now than ever.”

Page last updated - 17/05/2021