Make no mistake, in spite of the pandemic, the year 2020 has indeed been the Year of the Nurse. Nurses have been in the news all year long, and it’s time to do a round-up and go over what is happening in nursing right now.
Nurses Petition Capitol Hill for Protection
On Monday, August 7, a petition with over half a million signatures was delivered by the largest nursing union in the United States, National Nurses United (NNU). This petition was presented to just about every member of the house of representatives and the senate. Its timing is intentional, as congress is currently negotiating the fourth stimulus package and could include legislation to the benefit or detriment of nurses nationwide.
It’s demands? The NNU is demanding more protections be in place for nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, they call for a mandate that would compel the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard which would serve to obligate employers to protect workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. Moreover, they solicit Congress to authorize legislation that would increase PPE production and facilitate more efficient transportation and allocation of critical medical supplies. This legislation is known as the Defense Production Act of 1950 and has been reauthorized at least 50 different times. The act gives the government the authority to enlist private companies for defense production.
Other advocacy groups supporting the petition are: Be A Hero, Daily Kos, Democracy for America, Justice Democrats, People’s Action, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Social Security Works, and Women’s March.
United Kingdom Government Says No to Early Pay Raise for Nurses
Nurses in the UK have been calling for an earlier than scheduled pay raise due to the increased hazards, stresses, and struggles of managing the pandemic. The nurses and some other healthcare worker professions had committed to a three-year pay deal, that was agreed upon in 2018 and therefore due for review in 2021.
However, in response to the immense stress of the pandemic and the fact that advocacy groups worldwide are pushing for greater protections and funding for nurses, British nurses have begun advocating for themselves and demanding the right for an early pay raise. They want a pay raise of 15%, and they don’t want to wait until 2021 for the negotiations to begin.
On Saturday, August 8, thousands of nurses across the United Kingdom hit the streets in a demand for negotiations to begin early, yet this year. According to the current agreement, a nurse’s starting salary is £25,000. Advocacy groups, nursing unions, and nursing colleges were and still are in support of an early pay raise negotiation and had been buoyed by reports of pay negotiations for other professions including teachers and doctors.
Unfortunately hopes understandably dimmed when the Care minister Helen Whatley appeared on the BBC’s breakfast morning show and announced that pay negotiations for nurses would take place in the following year, 2021, as previously planned.
Despite the Care Minister’s announcement, the grassroots group NHS Workers Say No and Nurses United and the Royal College of Nursing report they will continue their advocacy efforts to push for “substantial and early” pay raises for their members. Demonstrations are planned for the end of the month, and the Royal College of Nursing plans to present their case to the ministers in September.
Poor Working Conditions for Nurses During the Pandemic
The National Nurses United (NNU) group put forth a survey conducted on 22,200 US nurses. The survey results are concerning, and highlight a lack of preparedness in hospitals struggling to provide adequate and safe conditions for healthcare workers as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
According to the NNU, the results of the survey show:
- “24% of nurses think their employer is providing a safe workplace.
- 87% of nurses who work at hospitals reported reusing at least one piece of single-use PPE. Reusing single-use PPE is a dangerous practice that can increase exposures to nurses, other staff, and patients.
- 54% of nurses who work at hospitals say their employer has implemented a decontamination program to “clean” single-use PPE, such as N95 respirators, between uses. Decontamination of single-use PPE has not been proven to be safe nor effective.
- 23% of nurses reported they have been tested for COVID-19. A lack of testing jeopardizes nurses’ health and safety and their ability to protect their patients and families.
36% of nurses who work at hospitals reported that they are afraid of catching COVID-19 and 43% are afraid of infecting a family member.
- 27% of nurses reported having exposed skin or clothing when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, leaving nurses and their colleagues at increased risk of being exposed to the virus at work.”
How do you feel about the working conditions in the hospitals and facilities that you’ve been working PRN shifts at? Do you feel protected? Do you have access to appropriate gear? Take the survey yourself by following this link, and add your experience and your voice to nurses across America. Don’t participate in the survey only if you’re unhappy with working conditions. If you feel good about the working conditions you’ve experienced, that information counts too.
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Understaffing and employment vacancies have been common themes in the industry of nursing for a long time. As the pandemic continues to make things difficult for healthcare workers nationwide, those understaffed units and departments only compound the stresses and anxieties for RNs, LPNs, and CNAs. Sign up with NursaTM today, and get connected to PRN shifts at medical facilities and hospitals near you, nd start making a difference right away.