Today (19 June) marks 100 days since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation on 11 March. To mark the date, we’ve set out eight key priorities vital for the safety of health care staff and the general public following the initial peak of the pandemic and as a wider range of health services resume.
Two of the priorities focus on the need for a supportive and considered approach to the mental health of nursing staff and other health care workers.
Many health and social care staff have worked in particularly stressful, exhausting and traumatic environments, while the backlog of postponed treatment will place great strain on services and, therefore, staff.
We’re calling for employers to make available and fund timely access to confidential counselling and psychological support for all staff, as well as support the health and wellbeing of nursing staff.
Other priorities include calling on UK governments, relevant agencies and employers to: commit to full and proper risk assessments; tackle underlying causes that contribute to placing BAME staff at heightened risk; ensure nurse leaders are equipped to futureproof infection control and critical care capabilities; and support nursing students as they resume their studies.
RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “Nursing staff and other care workers across the UK have shown remarkable leadership, professionalism and commitment. But as we move past the peak of the epidemic, we must care for those who’ve been caring.
“It is vital that our governments and employers, including the NHS, take steps now to protect our health and social care services and staff, who have done such remarkable work at a time of crisis.
“The weekly clapping may have stopped, but the practical measures needed to fully support our health care staff are only just beginning.”