Nursing should be ‘the heart of roadmap to recovery’

The Royal College of Nursing has published eight staff recovery and patient safety principles which must guide health care employers in planning the return to ‘normal’ service delivery.

As the Prime Minister announced his route out of lockdown in England, the RCN has published a document outlining the key tests for returning to ‘normal’ in the NHS, making it clear that the debate on returning to ‘normal’ service level must have patient need at its centre, but that it can’t come at the expense of members’ well-being.

The document includes eight key principles focusing on staff recovery and patient safety. Crucially, it says that staffing levels must be urgently addressed and must return to pre-coronavirus levels as a minimum, particularly in areas such as intensive care where ratios were diluted to unsafe levels during the pandemic.

They highlight the importance of nursing staff having timely and ongoing access to services to support their mental health and wellbeing, including confidential counselling, bereavement and psychological trauma support for all staff. The RCN is also calling for ‘long Covid’ to be recognised as an occupational disease with appropriate support put in place.

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN chief executive, said: “The Prime Minister must not bow to political pressure, only to pile it on health and care services instead. The messaging on hands, face and space must be reinforced, not diluted. Nursing staff are still telling me that the pressure on hospitals and other services are as bad as at any point last year. Exhausted staff must be supported to recover and pressure must abate further before we can enjoy the normality everybody craves.”

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