Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy. More than 201 years have passed since that day and her name is still remembered every year. Forty years after her birth, Nightingale founded the first nursery school in Saint Thomas Hospital, in London. Time after, she became an inspiration for, among others, the creator of Red Cross, Henri Dunant.
Apart from a tribute to Nightingale, May 12 is also a date to recognise the labor made by every nursery professional. Most of them are women (more than an 84% of them in Spain), for humanity’s health and well-being.
International Year of Health and Care Workers
The World Health Organization decided that 2021 had to become a year of recognition for health workers. The pandemic has reached every work sector, and especially the one that has saved lives and treated millions of patients worldwide. More than a year ago, the daily applauses showed how grateful society was with health workers. Nevertheless, it’s more important to thank them with our actions than with our gestures. It’s in our hands to be responsible and prevent the system to overload and providing a scenario where our health and care workers are able to do their job without an added stress.
It’s also important, especially after all the lives they have saved, to help them as a society with their vindications. The pandemic has provoked a scenario of an undeniable visibility for health and care workers. When the situation ends, we should remember how, as UN indicates, nurses and other workers in the sector are key in the maintenance of health levels of the population, and also in the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals.
Caring for the mental health of nurses and providing them with the resources they need, main objectives
The International Council of Nurses has offered some data to have in mind related with the situation of the sector. There are four main topics. All of them should become a main objective for health systems around the world.
First of all, Covid and the infections and deaths it has caused among nurses and other health workers. At the end of the year 2020, 1.6 million health and care workers were estimated to have been infected. And at the end of January, 2021, there were registers of more than 2,700 deaths of nurses in 59 countries, due to coronavirus infections.
The second topic to have in mind is the stress and exhaustion for nurses. An 80% of the national associations assigned to the Council have declared they have received reports of mental health problems among nurses.
What is also worrying is the scarcity of nursery personnel and the retention of new talent. It is estimated that in a few years there will be 13 million new nurses needed worldwide to palliate the insufficiency of professionals and the expected retirements.
Finally, before the mentioned scarcity of nurses, there is now a special attention regarding the quantity of them that will have to be trained in the next years. Also, in how a 73% of national associations affiliated with the ICN, have reported that the pandemic had paralysed -partially or totally- the nurses education.
Inclusion of nurses in the health systems leadership
Given that nursery professionals have been the biggest guarantors of palliative care during the pandemic (according to ICN around a 90% of it), and they are the ones that “have seen more closely the fragilities and weaknesses to approach for the design of the future health systems”, they claim to become an important part of those designing teams. It’s a matter of justice and of intelligence, because of all the value nurses can add.
From New Tandem, we recognize the labor of every nurse, not only during this last year -yet especially because of it- since, unfortunately, many of them have given their lives to save us all.