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NHS 75: Nurses share their ‘birthday wishes’ for the health service

NHS 75: Nurses share their ‘birthday wishes’ for the health service

To mark the 75th birthday of the NHS, Nursing in Practice has sought a selection of ‘birthday wishes’ from across the profession and is encouraging others to join the conversation on Twitter using #NHSBirthdayWish.

We have asked those working across a variety of settings to share their hopes for the future of the NHS, as it marks 75 years since it was launched.

Nursing in Practice intends to share the profession’s birthday wishes with the chief nursing officers of the UK and will ask them for a written response. Please add your voice to the conversation and share your #NHSBirthdayWish

Among the comments so far, nurses have told us they wish for those among the profession to ‘feel valued and supported and cared for, so they can have the energy and headspace to care for their patients’. Others have said they wish for racism to be a ‘thing of the past’ and for the NHS to fully deliver on ‘patient centred care’ and ensuring it is a health service that is ‘accessible to all’.

A collection of birthday wishes from the nursing profession:

Becky Wych – Advanced clinical practitioner and nurse partner, Combe Down Surgery, Bath

‘My wish for the NHS would be to fully deliver on patient centred care and wrapping services around that, rather than patients having to wrap and fit around services. In order to comply with this, more nurses need to be employed at higher levels and ensure that they are invited around the table where decisions are being made.’

Louie Horne – Deputy assistant director of nursing, WRES clinical research fellow, NHS England

‘My wish for the NHS is that racism will be a thing of the past and that all leaders champion anti-racist behaviours so that all staff of different nationalities thrive. I also wish for the NHS to have many more birthdays so that the patients can enjoy its huge benefits.’

Jim Blair – Learning disability nurse consultant

‘My birthday wish for the NHS at 75 is for people with learning disabilities and their families to experience health equality, care justice, social belonging and societal awareness and celebration of their talents, abilities, skills and worth to our national wellbeing.’

Zeba Arif – Steering committee member, Royal College of Nursing Mental Health Forum

‘My birthday wish for the NHS is that nursing staff realise and wield the power they have over politicians.’

Kirsty Cartin – Registered nurse/care home manager in Scotland

‘My wish for the NHS would be that routine face to face health and wellbeing monitoring is offered to all older adults. Care of older adults needs to be less crisis orientated.’

Helen Lewis – Advanced nurse practitioner working in general practice and Nursing in Practice advisory board member

‘Nursing within the NHS has grown up. Nurses are practitioners in their own right and it’s about time this was acknowledged with fair pay and recognition for what we do – is my birthday wish for the NHS.’

 Dr Joan Myers – Global strategic independent nurse consultant

‘My birthday wish for the NHS is that the government would wake up and realise that the NHS is this country’s national treasure and should be supported to continue for another 75 years.

‘This would be demonstrated by fully investing in retaining, maintaining and sustaining the NHS as a matter of priority. That the government would acknowledge that the nurses, midwives and all health care workers are valuable assets and should be renumerated, commemorated and celebrated.’

Dr Crystal Oldman – Chief executive, Queen’s Nursing Institute

‘I wish for the skills and knowledge of nurses to be better understood by the public, that this is brain work as well as heart work (to quote Suzanne Gordon). Nursing also means vigilance, risk management and patient safety.’

Stuart Tuckwood – Unison national nursing officer

‘My wish is for safe and effective staffing levels for nurses and all my colleagues in the NHS as we celebrate its 75th birthday.’

Sara Gorton – Unison head of health

‘I wish that all NHS staff (direct and indirectly employed) are recognised, valued and properly rewarded for their roles and the part they play together – one team in the NHS!’

Wilma Brown – Staff nurse and chair of Unison Scotland health committee

‘My wish for the NHS is that staff are treated and paid appropriately, they really do deserve better.’

David Munday – Lead professional officer (mental health), Unite the union

As an individual I hope/wish that when I or my family/friends need the NHS it will [still] be there for us. As a nurse/trade unionist I wish for NHS employment to be fulfilling, enjoyable and well rewarded for those that work in it.

Ellen Nicholson – Co-chair Royal College of Nursing GPN Forum

‘Consistent and sustained investment with recognition of the societal, preventative health and economic benefits of out of hospital nursing services (primary and community care).

‘Ambulatory nursing pathways are pivotal to society’s health and wellbeing. Under recognition and under investment comes at a high cost and causes greater pressure and cost on acute services.

‘Also, that nursing must have its voice reinstated with the Department of Health and Social Care policy department – we have seen multiple detrimental effects across nursing and wider society of the decision to remove these roles in 2012.’

Jodie Crossman – Nurse team leader for a sexual health service in Brighton

‘My wish is that nurses will feel valued and supported and cared for, so they can have the energy and headspace to care for their patients.’

Sally Shillaker: Practice development lead (genomics), Institute of Health Visiting

‘The NHS belongs to us all whether we work in it or receive care from it.  Let’s work together to safeguard it, improve it, and preserve it for its next 75 years.’

Emma Dechenu – Director of Nursing and Clinical Governance and Nightingale App, Primary care staff Bank

‘Primary care nursing is one of the jewels in the crown of the NHS. Focused on health and keeping patients and communities well, caring for families cradle to grave, we hope that it receives the support and investment it needs to ensure we can continue to build on Bevans legacy of a fair NHS that not only supports you in a time of illness but also focuses on prevention and health promotion.’

Alison Morton – Chief executive, Institute of Health Visiting

‘Celebrating 75 years of our magnificent NHS provides an important opportunity to remember the enormous benefits it has brought all of us – for many, the NHS has been with us from before we took our first breath, provided world class healthcare when we’ve needed it most and compassionate care as our loved ones have taken their last breath. It is no judge of class and character, providing a welcome safety net for all people – this is a priceless gift to our nation that we need to cherish.’

Georgina Mayes – Policy and quality lead, Institute of Health Visiting

‘My wish for the NHS is that it remains free at the point of contact and is sufficiently funded to provide high quality and equitable care for everyone.’

Jane Lambert – Chief executive of ECG Healthcare

‘My wish is to see greater access to assessments and support for children who may have ADHD and / or Autism. So many are left for years of their young lives without the right support to help them thrive.’

Linsey Sheerin – Royal College of Nursing Northern Ireland Board member and a service manager in urgent and emergency care in the Belfast Trust

‘The future of the NHS can be better than the present… as long as we listen to and advance the nursing workforce. My NHS birthday wish is, we continue to build a health service accessible to all those who need us. Recognising the workforce who tirelessly deliver for us.’

Marimouttou Coumarassamy – Founder and chairman, British Indian Nursing Association 

‘Wishing our NHS, a happy 75th anniversary. Let’s have a NHS that is diverse, inclusive and accountable to the staff and public for their experience #InclusiveCompassionateNHS’

Marilyn Eveleigh – NIP Advisory Board Member 

‘I wish to have an experienced qualified nurse, paid by the NHS, in every residential care home to avoid unnecessary ambulance call outs and/or hospital admission and to have more clinical services in the community.’

Jennie Lee Sims – Chair of the Royal College of Nursing Northern Ireland mental health network and lead nurse in an acute mental health and learning disability unit

‘Our mental health services are facing increasing pressures due to high acuity levels, over capacity across our inpatient wards and depleted staffing levels. We work hard to value and support our staff, however, due to these pressures as well as lack of progress on a pay award, we are losing staff to agencies and other professions.

‘This ultimately impacts on our ability to provide the high standards safe and effective care we aspire to. My wish would be for us to have the necessary resources available to care for our patients, retain our wonderful nursing staff and promote psychological safety.’

Rhona Aikman – General practice nurse and Nursing in Practice advisory board member

‘My wish for the NHS is that we can show staff they are valued and retain them. The NHS can’t continue to lose staff and cope with the huge backlogs. During Covid there was an amazing pulling together of all areas of the NHS but this was followed by burnout for many.’

Rita Devlin – Director, Royal College of Nursing Northern Ireland

‘On behalf of our members, RCN NI wishes to see strong political leadership and the return of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive so that we can negotiate a fair pay rise for nursing staff, implement safe staffing legislation and begin to transform our health and social care services for the benefit of patients.’

Amy Noble – Clinical nurse manager in Scotland

‘My wish for the NHS would be for a greater investment and concentrated focus on the health and social care sector. Our home carers don’t get nearly enough recognition and credit and more needs to be done to increase our health and social care workforce and capacity.

‘We have a high number of non-acute patients in the acute care sector due to lack of care capacity and staffing resources. The evidence tells us patients who are delayed to discharge are placed at greater risk simply by remaining in acute hospital settings.

‘In order to reduce this risk and ensure patients are discharged home with adequate care provision in a timely manner, we need to invest in this crucial service.’

Professor Gemma Stacey – Deputy chief executive, Florence Nightingale Foundation

‘My wish for the NHS is that it values and supports its people as the most significant asset they hold as a health system. That it prioritises their wellbeing, development and celebrates the contribution they make each and every day for the benefit of population health.’

Dr Ruth Oshikanlu – Award winning nurse, midwife and health visitor

‘My #NHSBirthdayWish is that the NHS continues to deliver excellent standards of nursing care, free of charge at the point of the delivery for another 75years. Lack of money should never be a reason for one not being to receive quality nursing care.

‘I also wish that nurses are given more autonomy to lead in all healthcare settings. Every decision-making table should have a nurse who is allowed to use their voice to make a real difference to the populations they serve.

‘I also want every nurse to have the ability to articulate the expertise we possess, in order for everyone to value the difference we make.

‘My final wish is for the UK to train their own nurses to eradicate our dependency on internationally educated nurses.’

Lucy Brown – Director of nursing and midwifery leadership development, Florence Nightingale Foundation

‘My wish for the NHS is to pledge to encourage, develop and empower nurses and midwives to lead sustainable change at all levels of the organisation and focusing on leaner pathways, tackling health inequalities and reducing carbon emissions.’

Jeni Caguioa – head of global, Florence Nightingale Foundation

‘I wish for the NHS for another 75 years of commitments to patients and workforce; that our international nurses and doctors who have come to support the health service will continue to be seen, be heard and be recognised.’

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