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Nursing shortage ‘the greatest threat to global health’, says ICN

Nursing shortage ‘the greatest threat to global health’, says ICN

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is demanding governments across the world invest in the nursing, as well as the protection and safety of workers, amid a global nursing shortage as it launches a report and host of resources today.

The organisation has today launched an International Nurses’ Day (IND) toolkit, to help nurses push for local action and improved clinical practice on the ground.

The toolkit looks at the four policy focus areas of the WHO Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery: education, jobs, leadership and service delivery. It outlines the benefits of investing in each of these areas, the evidence of underinvestment, the expected outcomes of meaningful investment, as well as the actions required for successful delivery and monitoring of these priorities.

In addition, the IND report focuses on two strategic priorities it said have come to the forefront over the last two years: investing in and prioritising the safety of health care workers, and caring for the health and wellbeing of nurses.

The report examines the extra burden the Covid-19 pandemic has put on health systems and the nursing workforce, highlighting the risks to and lack of protection of the profession.

The resources also include posters, social media banners and other digital tools to promote #IND2022, such as a digital map with videos from ICN board members discussing regional priorities.

Dr Pamela Cipriano, ICN president said: ‘Nurses have given their all in the fight against Covid-19, Ebola, in disaster areas and in war zones. Yet, they continue to face under-staffing, lack of protection, heavy workloads, and low wages. It is time now to take real action to address workplace safety, protect nurses and safeguard their physical and mental health…

‘Recent reports have shown that investment in nursing is needed now if we are to meet the healthcare challenges of the future. We can no longer continue to undervalue and under-invest in nursing. Now is the time for action.’

ICN chief executive Howard Catton added that governments were not giving the workforce issue the attention it deserved and should be ‘urgently prioritising investment in nursing… proportionate to its importance for the future of societies everywhere’.

The ICN has previously estimated up to 13 million more nurses will be needed worldwide over the next decade and has urged world leaders to act ‘swiftly and decisively’ to avoid a ‘potentially catastrophic’ shortage of nurses.

The RCN rejoined the ICN last month nearly a decade after it left over concerns about membership fees, after 84.7% of its membership voted to sign back up to the global network.

Health and care staff shortages are already ‘very clearly’ impacting care in the UK, an NHS leader has warned, with shortages in the nursing workforce compromising patient care even before the Covid-19 pandemic began, data has suggested.