International Nurses’ Day has an added poignancy this year.
In hospitals across the globe, nurses and other medical staff don’t just get exhausted after long shifts, but they risk their lives looking after people with Covid-19, getting them back to health, or comforting them as they die. It’s harsh and brutal.
I have so much to be grateful to nurses for. Nearly four years ago, my husband spent 51 nights in hospital. He had an infection in his heart which basically ate one of his heart valves. It was an incredibly frightening experience. I will always be grateful to the nurses who cared for him. I remember their names, each and every one.
I won’t repeat them here, but there was the one who phoned me late one night when the fear got too much for Bob and let me speak to him. The one who comforted him when the news that he’d have to spend another 6 weeks in hospital was overwhelming. The intensive care nurse who did not stop moving in all the time I was there, making sure he was as comfortable as he could be and checking everything so that if things were going wrong, they could act quickly. The nurses on the rehab ward, who gave him the very necessary boot camp treatment to get him back to full health.
In all of the 51 nights he was in hospital, only once did I see nurses go home at the time that they were supposed to. They work to incredibly high professional standards and they will still find the time to care and comfort. It was a huge relief to me that I could go home every night knowing that he was being properly looked after.
They do this every day and every night.
I think of the nurses who came to care for Bob’s mother when she was dying of Cancer, coming out on Christmas Day to help her when she was struggling. The care and compassion they showed to her and to us was incredible. They are in incredibly short supply at the moment.
My sister and my cousin and numerous friends are out there on the front line right now. They all deserve our love and support. This must go beyond the now traditional clap on a Thursday night. We need to commit ourselves to ensuring that they and everyone else who works in the NHS is properly treated. And that means voting for parties who are prepared to make sure that they have the resources they need to provide that care safely and that they get paid well and treated well at work. Always.
And we need to remember that so many of our nurses come from other countries. Putting them through the hell of our immigration control system is, frankly, unacceptable. Making them pay a surcharge of hundreds (thousands if they have a family) to use the NHS they serve is an absolute disgrace.
Nursing is a hugely diverse profession. From mental health to children to palliative care to oncology to cardio-thoracic to medical, they help us through the toughest times of our lives.
Today, and eery day, we should be very grateful to them.
Here is Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine talking about how nurses got her through a life-threatening and terrifying time in her life.