The theme of International Nurses Day this year is a ‘A vision for future healthcare’ informed by the disruptions and innovations in healthcare brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Mr Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Every year on May 12th, International Nurses Day is a time to pause, reflect upon, and celebrate the outstanding contribution of the world’s nursing professionals to global health.

Members of the largest health profession,  nurses have this last year delivered care above and beyond any expectation of our era, helping the world get through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and, in some additionally tragic cases, costing them their own lives too.

Whilst much of the developed world has benefited from the widespread roll out of effective vaccines in recent months, other countries are still seeing surges in the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19, and nurses continue to be stretched to and beyond breaking point across many health systems.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has themed this year’s International Nurses Day: A Voice to Lead - A vision for future healthcare. Calling for the pandemic to be taken as an opportunity to capitalise on the learning and innovation it has demanded of our healthcare systems.

Annette Kennedy , ICN President, said:

“This global COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world the important role that nurses play in keeping people healthy across the lifespan. While there has been significant disruption to healthcare, there has also been significant innovation that has improved access to care. In 2021, we will focus on the changes to and innovations in nursing and how this will ultimately shape the future of healthcare.”

Mental health

In the UK, as abroad, there also continue to be challenges regarding the retention and turnover of newly qualified nurses, with ongoing research led by City, University of London suggesting that the pandemic may have exacerbated psychologic problems already experienced by these health professionals too.

City nurses during the pandemic

Many of our nursing staff and students here at City have directly supported the NHS under COVID-19 conditions this last year and with the associated risks involved.

A number of City alumni, including nurses who trained with us, have tragically lost their lives to the pandemic.

We most recently lost to COVID-19 our colleague, Senior Lecturer, Dr Stan Mutsatsa, who had been part of our Mental Health Nursing team since 2015.

A memorial page to those lost to the pandemic can be visited here.

During the course of the pandemic we also lost colleague, Dr Anne McLeod, Senior Lecturer in Critical Care and Programme Director for Adult Nursing, who had been with us since 2003.

You can read the memorial page to Anne here.

Karen Chandler, Lead, Division of Nursing, City, University of London, wearing NHS PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Karen Chandler, Lead of the Division of Nursing at the School of Health Sciences, recently joined us at City from Kingston University. She reflected on the need to celebrate despite this difficult period:

Whilst I have been in education for 20 years, I continue to practice in my area of expertise: Accident & Emergency and Intensive Care. I worked in the NHS over the busy period of December 2020-January 2021, so saw first-hand the unique challenges that nurses are experiencing; something I have not seen in my 35 years’ experience, with the closest being the Gulf War of the early 1990s.

“We really should celebrate how nurses have coped above and beyond the normal pressures, caring for people in such difficult circumstances.

"We should also acknowledge the contribution that students have made, often putting their duty, or desire to care for others before their own needs, and whilst others were not able to contribute clinically at this time, they demonstrated support to their peers and persevered with their studies.

“And lastly, my new colleagues, who I know like my previous colleagues worked incredibly hard to ensure nursing students were allocated contracted placements in the NHS all over the country, and consequently supported them on placement at a difficult time.

“I am looking forward to celebrating the success of nursing today, after the immensely challenging year we have had.”

Find out more

Read last week's interview with Professor Debra Salmon, Dean of the School of Health Sciences at City, and a nurse herself, from City's Alumni relations team. Professor Salmon outlines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the School, and it's response: Lessons in Life and Death -  the School Taking on the Pandemic

A graduate of City’s Postgraduate Diploma in Paediatric Nursing programme, Ana Waddington was named Nurse of the Year in October by the Royal College of Nursing. She won the award for her work teaching young people lifesaving skills, and educating them about the consequences of serious youth violence, through the YourStance project.

Visit the Division of Nursing, School of Health Sciences webpage.

Visit the Royal College of Nursing website.

Visit the International Council of Nurses website.

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