Chronic underinvestment in health services has left many suffering.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has highlighted the importance of nurses during the Coronavirus pandemic and called for them to be better paid.
Howard Catton, a nurse, and chief executive of the ICN, told Kay Burley and Sky News viewers that the pandemic has highlighted “how integral nurses are” and explained how chronic underinvestment in health services has left many suffering.
Official figures suggest there are over 40,000 registered nursing vacancies across the NHS in England alone.
The workforce has also experienced a near 20% real-terms pay cut over the past decade as wages have failed to keep up with the rate of inflation.
Mr. Catton said; “We are seeing how integral nurses are not just to our health, our wellbeing, but also our ability to go for a walk in the park, to see our loved one.
“We are seeing nurses stepping in when we can’t be the person holding the hands of our elderly relatives in a care home for example.
“We are seeing how much we are now suffering for not having invested in health. When we talk about investing in health, let’s be clear here, hospitals and clinics without nurses, without staff, are just empty buildings.
“One of the big things, a positive legacy from this pandemic, could be a change in the mindset about how we think about spending in health – we see it as an investment not a cost and we recognise the economic value of our nurses.
“Quite frankly we need to pay them more.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is currently consulting its member on if the UK should rejoin the ICN after it left in 2013.