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The weeks that will change nursing for ever

Emily Twinch

If you were to pick a time to start a job, you might not choose a global pandemic.

If you were to pick a time to start a job, you might not choose a global pandemic.

But shortly after I started as editor at Nursing in Practice, Covid-19 put the world into lockdown. This unusual start gave me the chance to see the resilience of nurses – their amazing dedication as they carry out their jobs, knowing they could contract Covid-19 or even worse, die from it.

Carolyn Doyle from the Royal College of Nursing told us for our in depth piece on the changing face of nursing that despite staff shortages, community nurses have ‘pulled out the stops’. The same is true for practice nurses. Some are having to learn new ways of working, with triage and remote consultations.

Marie Therese Massey, also from the RCN, told us she believed much of the progress made in these short weeks will stay.  There’s ‘no going back’, she says.

Some nurses have been redeployed to ‘hot hubs’ that see patients with coronavirus symptoms face to face, often in acute situations they do not usually encounter. The latest print edition of Nursing in Practice showed how they have risen to the challenge.

Opinions from practice nurses Marilyn Eveleigh, Rhona Aikman and Elia Monteiro gave a taste of their lives during the pandemic. This is different from the experience of some community nurses, who are taking on greater workloads as colleagues become ill with Covid-19 and hospitals discharge patients earlier.

Health visitors and school nurses have been redeployed to roles that do not use their skills, and their absence from their usual posts has sparked fears of a rise in domestic violence.

And nurses are taking on these challenges often without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Time and again we have reported stories where nurses say they are working with a lack of equipment or they are being asked to re-use single-use PPE. This must stop.

Especially for nurses in care homes, where the peak appeared behind that of the country as a whole. Community nurses whose jobs cannot be done without patient contact also need the right PPE. We have set up a tribute page for those who have lost their lives in this crisis and the majority named are social care and community nurses.

But the pandemic is not over.

As lock down is gradually eased, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his ‘road map’ to a ‘new normal’, fresh waves of the pandemic are possible.

Healthcare professionals need the right protection now and in the future. There should be no excuses.