Celebrating International Nurses’ Day 2021

International Nurses’ Day is a day observed globally today on May 12th each year, marking the contributions that nurses make to society. This year’s International Nurses’ Day holds added significance, given the strain that healthcare services were put under during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The response to the pandemic in the United Kingdom included large scale changes to the delivery of healthcare, without fully understanding the potential impact of these adjustments. Healthcare staff went above and beyond during this time, and as such, nursing once again proved to be imperative in providing vital patient safety.

As a consequence, in one locality in Greater Manchester the entire urgent and emergency care patient pathway during the first wave was reviewed, with a publication being co-authored by members of the Health Innovation Manchester Utilisation Management Unit – ‘Consequences of the emergency response to COVID-19: a whole healthcare system review in a single city in the United Kingdom’.

Clearly the achievements of nursing has been ever-present throughout this challenging time, so to recognise these efforts, a select number of nursing staff at Health Innovation Manchester have each shared their thoughts on the changes and developments the system has undergone.

Health Innovation Manchester would like to thank each and every one of the nurses working across Greater Manchester and beyond, who have supported the system in working to provide vital patient safety during the pandemic.

Dr Paula Bennett, Associate Director for Clinical Development/Utilisation Management Unit Lead, said: “During the pandemic, like many of our nursing colleagues our role was suddenly very different. We had to work in different ways, with completely new teams to provide clinical input and expertise across a range of GM-wide projects. Working remotely to support rapid change and innovation across all the GM localities created the need for new sills and approaches, some of which were untested virtually. I am most proud of the way we responded so proactively to the needs to the system. For example, we worked with the whole health and care system in Salford to understand the impact of the changes in the urgent and emergency care response during the first wave. The insights from this work was shared widely and helped refine the UEC response for subsequent waves across the whole of GM.

“As we celebrate International Nurses Day we will be reflecting on the challenges the nursing profession has faced over the last year and how nursing skills, knowledge and expertise has provided patients and families with care and compassion during these unprecedented times.”

Dr Debbie Atkinson, Clinical Development Lead at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “The last year has been one of highs and lows and a challenge for us all in different ways. Watching colleagues battle to manage the huge demand from COVID was hard to see, but my work at Health Innovation Manchester enabled me to provide support on a broad scale.

“I was involved in supporting localities to develop COVID Oximetry @home, COVID virtual wards and Post COVID syndrome clinics, which gave me a great sense of satisfaction in the knowledge that I was still able to help patients. I have never been prouder to be a registered nurse and to feel the genuine support of the public for the work of the NHS.”

Wendy Stobbs, Senior Programme Development Lead at Health Innovation Manchester – National Patient Safety Improvement Programmes, said: “Working more from home, whilst this has meant a lot of change it has also meant closer relationships with our stakeholders as you feel ‘invited into their personal home space’. I’ve shared and built closer personal contacts over the last year than I ever would have done I think with the face to face ones. The ability to hop from meeting to meeting, whilst sometimes a challenge has also allowed greater engagement from people who previously were very time pressured and couldn’t spare the time to travel to meetings – I feel this has enabled wider discussions and engagement in my Patient Safety Collaborative programmes of work.

“Moving forward, I see things progressing as we continue to build on the closer relationships to deliver our Patient Safety Collaborative commissioned safety improvement work for Greater Manchester and East Cheshire.”

Helen Tomlinson, Senior Clinical Nurse Reviewer at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “I have been in nursing for 37 years and despite the many challenges, especially over the last twelve months my passion for nursing has not diminished. The patient has always been at the heart of everything for me, and not just their medical needs, but the whole person. I have had many roles from general nursing to midwifery, from respiratory to service improvement, and have been excited to see the amazing developments and improvements over time.

“Despite the challenges of the last twelve months, I am proud to be part of profession that has achieved incredible outcomes in such difficult circumstances. As I look back over the last twelve months, personally it has been pleasing to recognise how I have adapted to a changing role and circumstances. I have recognised the same in my friends and colleagues. This is the NHS that I know and love, and I am confident, with all I know and have experienced that this will continue in the future.”

Andrea Riley, Nurse Reviewer, Utilisation Management Unit at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “During the pandemic I supported the deployment of a COVID-19 tracker in care homes. This involved training care home staff across Greater Manchester in how to use this digital tool to monitor residents. The tool is able to highlight vulnerable residents and enabled care home staff to escalate concerns to either the residents own GP or other community services. It also improved the awareness of the importance of data and its uses.”

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