British nurses fight COVID-19, government neglects them

British nurses demanding a pay rise – their hard work has saved many lives during the Covid-19 crisis

From daily News Line in Britain, 24 August 2020:

Nurses are working longer hours and above pay grades to deal with Covid-19

24th August 2020

A MAJOR Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey has revealed how the pandemic has affected the professional lives of nursing staff. It shows, from the hours that they worked to the support they received – how staff in all settings experienced major changes.

The ‘Building a Better Future for Nursing’ survey had nearly 42,000 responses, and found nursing staff going literally ‘above and beyond’, working under pressures of staff shortages and putting in longer hours, and often having to work above their pay grade:

  • Just over three quarters (76%) reported an increase in their own stress levels.
  • Over half (52%) strongly agreed, and an additional 39% also agreed, with the statement that they were concerned over the well-being of those in the nursing profession generally.
  • Around a third (34%) said they were working at a higher level of responsibility, with 90% of those saying they were not being paid extra for it.
  • Over a third (38%) said staffing levels had worsened during the pandemic.
  • A third (33%) were also putting in longer hours, with an even higher figure of 50% for independent/private sector social care.

When asked what they would like to see done to make them feel more valued, respondents were clear that pay and staffing levels were top of their agenda:

  • Nearly three quarters (73%) said improved pay would make them feel more valued. Half (50%) said better staffing levels would make them feel more valued.

To that Dame Donna Kinnair, CE and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The last year is something none of us could have predicted and has shown nursing in a light never seen before.

‘Whether in hospitals, care homes or in the community, across the entire health and care nursing workforce have stepped up to care for their patients and support their colleagues.

‘The public clapping on their doorsteps must reverberate all the way to the heart of government. We now need to see action. That is why we continue to call for a significant and early pay rise.

‘The pandemic it not over, but unless there is improved pay, we risk many of our members leaving the profession – at a time when the nation needs them more than ever.’

And in response to a new report NHS Confederation report’s calling on the Prime Minister to urgently ‘fix’ social care, Susan Masters, RCN Director of Nursing and Public Affairs, insisted:

‘Those who rely on social care can ill-afford to wait for a fix. As we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, nursing staff have been essential to clinical safety in care homes and elsewhere.

‘However, a lack of substantial investment and proper workforce planning means there aren’t enough staff to deal with the increasing demand for care. Unsatisfactory, variable pay, terms and conditions across the sector remain one of the key obstacles to effective recruitment and retention.

‘In fact, a recent survey of our members found improved pay was a key step towards making staff feel more valued.

‘As winter approaches, the government must act urgently so hard-working staff on the frontline of care can meet the needs of all who need them.’

  • On Thursday August 20th, two leading Royal Colleges stressed how vital it is that all pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 receive multi-disciplinary maternity care from the start – and that all information given to such pregnant women must be accessible to them all.

Responding to a new report from the MBRRACE-UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said that ‘clarity is key when providing specific advice to women with Covid-19 during pregnancy and after birth’.

They also stressed the need for special attention to be paid to those at higher risk, including black, Asian and minority ethnic women, and also including provision of access to an interpreter where needed.

The report reviewed the care of 16 pregnant and postnatal women who died with Covid-19, from mental health-related causes or due to domestic violence from 1 March to 31 May 2020. During this period ten women died with Covid-19 infection, eight directly related to Covid-19 and two from other causes. Four died by suicide and two due to domestic violence. And during the three months covered by this report, over 160,000 women gave birth in the UK.

Commenting, RCM CEO Gill Walton said: ‘While this is a small study, it sadly indicates that many of the women who died from Covid-19 were from black, Asian or ethnic minority backgrounds. This further emphasises the need for clear information to be given to these women so that they are better able to manage their health appropriately.

‘Ensuring that those at higher risk are supported by a multi-disciplinary team – and that they see the same professionals over time – is key to tackling and improving outcomes for women with high risk pregnancies.

‘Isolation during the pandemic has been very difficult for some women during their pregnancy and after birth. That is why we must ensure that they are able to access appropriate community-based care from midwives, health visitors and perinatal mental health teams.

‘While we welcome the greater use of technology to support pregnant women, it is not a wholesale substitute for face-to-face support. This is particularly true for picking up on safeguarding issues, including women at risk of domestic abuse.

‘We fully support those maternity teams offering a blended approach, giving the reassurance of ongoing virtual contact alongside the “in person” appointments that allow women to get timely help and support.’

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: ‘Every one of these deaths is a tragedy, and our thoughts are with the families of the 16 women who died. It is crucial that we learn from the findings of this rapid report to help prevent future deaths.

‘Through our collaborative working with the MBRRACE team throughout the pandemic, the clinical recommendations have already been incorporated into our guidance for women and healthcare practitioners.

‘The guidance makes clear pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 must have multi-disciplinary maternity care, and states there should be a low threshold for review of pregnant Black, Asian, and minority ethnic women with Covid-19.

‘Addressing health inequalities is a key priority for the College, and we established a Race Equality Taskforce earlier this month to focus on reducing adverse outcomes in BAME women.

‘This report highlights that we must also ensure that services are fit to support vulnerable women who are victims of domestic violence or abuse.

‘Future pandemic planning should ensure that the care of pregnant women is not compromised by redeployment of maternity staff, and that access to face-to-face antenatal and postnatal care for women who need support with their mental health is prioritised.’

5 thoughts on “British nurses fight COVID-19, government neglects them

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