Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
Patient safety and the safety of nurses are “two sides of the same coin”, nursing leaders across the UK and globally have warned today.
They are using this year’s World Patient Safety Day to call for action and investment in order to protect nurse health and wellbeing, which they argued was essential to keeping patients safe and well cared for.
“No country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Their demands sit in line with the theme of this year’s World Patient Safety Day: “health worker safety: a priority for patient safety”.
To mark the event, organiser the World Health Organization (WHO) has today published a new Health Worker Safety Charter and is urging governments to sign up to it.
It said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the extent to which protecting health workers was key to ensuring a functioning health system and a functioning society.
Not only had Covid-19 exposed health professionals to physical and psychological harm but there had also been a rise in reports of abuse and discrimination against those on the frontline, added the WHO.
By supporting the charter, leaders are promising to take five actions to protect their health and care workforce.
These include steps to protect health workers from violence in the workplace; to improve their mental health; and to protect them from physical and biological hazards.
The charter also asks governments to establish “synergies” between health worker safety and patient safety policies and strategies, including integrating incident reporting systems for both.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded all of us of the vital role health workers play to relieve suffering and save lives,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (pictured above), WHO director-general.
“No country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe.
“WHO’s Health Worker Safety Charter is a step towards ensuring that health workers have the safe working conditions, the training, the pay and the respect they deserve.”
The charter has been endorsed by the International Council of Nurses (ICN), which earlier this week called out global governments for their “collective failure” to prioritise nurses during the pandemic.
The ICN has pledged to work with its national nursing association members to encourage all governments to sign up and identify those that do not.
Howard Catton, chief executive of the ICN, is a member of WHO’s Patient Safety Network and made recommendations which were factored into the charter.
These included the need for a zero-tolerance approach to abuse against nurses, safe staffing, a better work-life balance, access to safety equipment, and open communication in the workplace.
“It is clear that action needs to be taken now to protect the health and wellbeing of nursing staff”
Mr Catton said it must be recognised that “health worker safety and patient safety are two sides of the same coin – you cannot have one without the other, they are indivisible”.
“Governments must commit to putting the safety of their healthcare workers at the centre of how their health systems are organised and managed,” he added.
“Doing so will improve health outcomes for their people and increase safety and security for their staff, and it will save nurses’ lives.”
Meanwhile, in the UK, the Royal College of Nursing is using World Patient Safety Day to call for investment in nurse training and pay nationally.
The college warned that the shortage of nursing staff across the nation was “putting both staff and patients at risk”, noting how workplace pressures had been highlighted and intensified by Covid-19.
Susan Masters, RCN director of nursing, policy and public affairs, said: “Nursing staff, whatever setting they work in, dedicate themselves to those in their care and have been working under the pressure from unfilled staff vacancies for far too long.
“With experienced nursing staff saying they are considering leaving the profession, it is clear that action needs to be taken now to protect the health and wellbeing of nursing staff as well as to build a workforce fit for the future.
“Unless all the governments in the UK act now there is very real risk the health and wellbeing of those who dedicate themselves to the care of others could become terribly damaged.”