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Cases of Covid-19 are rising sharply again, that we know. The mortality rate remains down at the moment, thankfully, but who knows where we will be come later in the autumn.
What I think is a certainty though, having spoken to a number of people this week during judging for the Nursing Times Awards and planning for other events, is that nursing staff are tired.
The last six months have inevitably taken their toll, both physically and emotionally, on the clinical workforce and there is little time now to recover before winter and the challenges that brings.
As a senior nurse recently told me, staff who have had Covid-19 themselves have residual problems that mean they are not 100%, and younger nurses will have been exposed to more death than usual.
Two news stories this week help to illustrate my point. Firstly, there is the story of Sue Snelson, a critical care outreach nurse specialist, who was in intensive care unit for 12 days with Covid-19.
Brilliantly, after four months off work, Ms Snelson, returned to nursing at the end of August. However, she noted that recovery has been slow and she still experiences shortness of breath.
The plan is for her to return to work through a phased approach, starting on four-hour shifts, and I have no doubt many members of the profession around the country are in a similar position to her.
Meanwhile, an intensive care nurse has photographed the emotions and experiences of colleagues working during the coronavirus pandemic to reflect the “mounting pressures” staff were under.
“That the effects of Covid-19 would not just be short term was always a concern for the profession and its leaders”
Emily Gilhespy decided to spend her breaks photographing fellow nurses, because she wanted the public to “understand the severity and the impact” the outbreak was having on nursing staff.
However, I am not sure the public has grasped these facts. The period when nurses were front and centre – with personal protective equipment shortages, staff mortality and clapping for the NHS – seems a long time ago now.
That the effects of Covid-19 would not just be short term was always a concern for the profession and its leaders, and one that we at Nursing Times recognised.
With that in mind, we have just published two powerful and timely clinical articles. One looks at research on interventions to protect the wellbeing of nursing staff and the other at types of anxiety.
As you will also hopefully know, we are running the Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign to highlight the mental health pressures and needs of nurses during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
What happens next will be crucial. Nursing staff have not fully recovered from the crisis, there is pressure to resume normal services but cases of Covid-19 are rising, and winter is not far off.
NHS leaders and the government must recognise this now and put solid plans in place that account for all of these factors, or we could be facing another very challenging situation in just a few months.