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Nurses - why your country needs you!

International Nurses Day is held annually on May 12th, Florence Nightingale's birthday. 'The Lady with the Lamp' did a great deal for the nursing profession, including setting up her own nursing school, and also in the fight for women's work rights. She was also a staunch proponent of hygiene and sanitation conditions having a direct effect on the sick and wounded, helping to set new standards for cleanliness. Now we celebrate not only her achievements but take a day to appreciate the work of nurses, both globally and at The Priory, and the fantastic job they do alongside their colleagues in delivering safe, compassionate and effective care to our patients, clients and service users.

A shortage of nurses

Dating from the time of Florence Nightingale to the present day, the call for more nurses seems ever-present, and the words 'nurse shortage' often find their way into the headlines. But, to recall the famous poster of Lord Kitchener, 'Your Country Needs You', nurses are the largest group of professionals within the healthcare system, with around 690,000 nurses and midwives working in the UK alone, making them the backbone of the sector.

Mental health nursing

The NHS recently reported a decline in the number of mental health nurses, with the figure dropping by over 10%. This is an even more pressing concern when placed parallel to the rising number of those seeking mental healthcare. It is a worrying contrast, so in such a wide-ranging and challenging profession, one in which nurses frequently have to help those at their lowest ebb, it is a day like International Nurses Day where people can stand up and let nurses know their work doesn't go unappreciated, and that they are valued and respected.

Pressure on nurses

The flipside of statistics like these is what they reveal about the increasing pressure placed upon nurses on the front lines, with their depleting numbers combating the rise in patients requiring care. This can lead to a great deal of workplace-related stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression, and gives an insight into what could become a vicious circle: nurses leaving the profession because of stress, caused by increased pressure derived from nurses leaving the profession. Adverse workplace conditions are a common cause of mental health problems and should be guarded against in all areas.

A career that makes a real difference

It is for this reason it's not only important to show support for the nursing profession, but also encourage people to train and take up the vocation. The advantages of nursing and the satisfaction that can be gained from seeing the positive effect and impact your efforts have on patients' lives and wellbeing are hopefully attractive qualities in a career. And in bolstering the ranks of the nursing profession the pressure is spread, and instead of being overwhelming it could become the good kind of pressure, the good Stress Zone, which pushes people to strive to be the best caregiver they can be.

The power of resilience in nursing

The theme for this year's International Nurses Day is resilience, specifically how nurses can help to strengthen the resilience of healthcare systems. The full details can be found in the IND toolkit. The idea of systemic resilience, supported by the nursing profession, is one that can see nurses as a collective, strengthen their caregiving further. By understanding how to transfer personal resilience into their working environment, they can aid the personal resilience and mental health of their patients.

Priory Group Head of Nursing, Jane Stone, adds:

"We are at the beginning of a new professional era for nursing at The Priory. We recognise completely that today's nurses seek a very different experience than that of Florence! This includes flexibility, a personalised professional package from preceptorship, return to practice, getting different clinical experiences for those that want them, clinical supervision and real support for achieving the highest standards of practice. We are able to give nurses a variety of career pathways - my aim is for us to have the best nurses in our services.

"Whilst we also offer a competitive remuneration package, we know that today's nurses strive for clinical excellence, hence our commitment to supporting our nurses and all staff in achieving this, using revalidation as a tool to support this."

International Nurses Day remains a day in which people can say thank you to nurses for their contribution to healthcare, for their resilience, perseverance, adaptability, compassion and skill.

So, from all at Priory Group, thank you; and a particularly massive thank you to all our nurses, working across our four divisions and services.

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