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Senior figures from health and social care in Wales, including the chief nursing officer, have sought to highlight the importance of social care nursing in the country’s response to Covid-19.
They have written an open letter to nursing staff in the social care sector to thank them for their “hard work and dedication” as Wales responded to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are aware that Covid-19 has created significant challenges for people working in social care”
They also stated that they had not “forgotten” those working in the sector and pledged to continue to advocate on their behalf, in the wake of political and media focus on nurses working in hospital settings.
In addition, they urged staff to encourage former colleagues who might have retired or left the health and social care sector to join the temporary register set up during the Covid-19 crisis.
The letter is signed by CNO for Wales Professor Jean White, Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Sue Evans, chief executive of Social Care Wales and Albert Heaney, deputy director general of health and social services.
In the letter, they noted that health and social care services were “under extreme pressure and this pressure is being exacerbated by staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities”.
“Nurses are the largest group of registered health and care professionals in the UK, and although all professionals are important and valued, there are specific challenges facing the nursing workforce at this unprecedented time,” they said.
They said they wanted to “particularly acknowledge the immense work being undertaken” by nurses working in the sector, highlighting their “crucial role” in managing complex care needs.
“We are aware that Covid-19 has created significant challenges for people working in social care and we would like to assure you that your concerns have not been forgotten,” they said.
“We will continue to advocate on your behalf in relation to issues like testing and ensuring you have sufficient PPE supplies, and the importance of supporting nurses in their clinical and leadership roles.”
On the need for nurses and care workers to “return and help”, they said: “Please could you encourage former colleagues to come back and practise.
“We need your help to spread the message far and wide,” they said. “Nurses returning to help will make a real difference for older people, those living with dementia, physical and learning disabilities or mental health needs.
They added: “Our sincere and heartfelt thanks for everything you are doing. Your incredible work is seen and valued by us, and the thousands of people and families you are making a difference for.”
Commenting separately on the letter, Ms Sutcliffe added: “I am so pleased to join our partners in the Welsh Government in recognising the important work social care nurses do every day.
“It’s vital that social care nurses get same level of recognition and respect as their colleagues in health care and we will continue to emphasise this,” said Ms Sutcliffe, who was previously chief Inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission.
“It is through the strength, skill and kindness of nurses working so hard every day across social care settings that we will be able to support the needs of people in the most vulnerable circumstances and get through this,” she said.