'We need more nurses - and they need better pay,' says nursing leader
- Credit: Royal College of Nursing
A nursing leader has reflected on the personal sacrifices and flexibility of nurses as she calls for further work to boost numbers entering the profession post pandemic.
Speaking ahead of International Nurses Day, Teresa Budrey, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing, said among the challenges facing the profession continues to be staffing levels which had been at a shortage of 40,000 across England when the pandemic began.
Going forward she said innovation shown during the last 12 months needed to continue to tackle the record number of patients waiting.
The RCN has been among the vocal groups for fairer pay after the government's pay review body posed a 1pc pay rise for NHS staff - which was a factor in bringing people to the profession.
Mrs Budrey said: "In particular in the last year the innovations in terms of nurses across the health sectors have shown a willingness and moving to do something different.
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"We need to work with health and care systems on growing the number of nurses going forward. How we grow our next generation of nurses and pay is part of that."
She said Norfolk was forward thinking and that health care system was working "really hard" to invest in the future generations of nursing.
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She praised the pilot of the NHS reservist list ran at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital which has seen retired and former nurses return to work across the region's three trusts.
Mrs Budrey said: "Our health care systems have worked together in a way they never have before and has cut through bureaucracy to deliver patient care a lot quicker and a lot safer."
She reflected on the many staff who moved across to different roles to support colleagues.
Among them was Helen Hoy, who is a staff cardiology nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
Her usual role is usually working in fast paced environment treating patients brought in an emergency to those being discharged home.
During the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, she moved to work in intensive care after seeing her colleagues "pushed to their limits".
She said: "I went for two months and it was like nothing I had ever experienced or seen before. I learned that I can quickly adapt to different situations and you learn a lot about how to speak to families and patients at their worst moments and can help to provide a little ease. The pandemic made me truly realise how resilient and incredible nurses are, situations where changing daily and sometimes hourly and we all just took it within our stride.
"It is hard and tests every emotion you have sometimes, but every day is so different and you get to go home knowing that you helped make a difference to people’s lives.
"I love the team I work with, they are my second family. There are no other people that can relate or go through the experiences this job brings."
Student nurses Evangeline Baldwin and Shannon Webster found themselves caring for Covid-19 patients while on placement at the James Paget University Hospital.
Miss Baldwin, 27, from Beccles, was posted to trauma orthopedics before working in the respiratory ward alongside Miss Webster, 21.
The 27-year-old also made a personal sacrifice to leave her son with her mum during the pandemic.
She said: "We made the decision as a family to do this and it was at times unbearable but felt like the right thing to do.
“The experience has shown me that a hospital is filled with people who are adaptable, hard-working – and really brave.”
Miss Webster, from Gorleston, added: "One of the moments I remember was being there for patients who were reaching the end of their lives. I was able to give them that extra time and comfort that the busy staff were unable to at that time, even if it just involved holding the patient’s hand."
Mrs Budrey said the pandemic put a microscope on the amazing work of nursing across all sectors.
She added: "It's about celebrating nursing in every role and every part of care across Norfolk.
"We see the acute trusts but behind that we have the care homes, we have the community nurses, mental health nurses, learning disabilities across Norfolk."