This year's International Nurses Day featured a new Charter for Change, released by the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The Charter emphasises the need to ‘urgently address and improve support for nurses' health and well-being by ensuring safe and healthy working conditions and respecting their rights’. It also states that, ‘nurses are key to healthier communities, responsive societies, thriving economies and powerful nations’ (ICN, 2023a).
Nurses are also advocates. As readers know, the current nursing strikes in the UK were never just about pay stagnation, but also to highlight the lack of structural government support for over a decade, leading to nurses' deep concerns over patient safety.
Similar industrial action has been mirrored across the globe, and, for many, it was COVID-19 that lit the fuse. It exposed the vulnerability of nursing, weaknesses in staffing and safety, and threats to the physical and mental health of nurses.
ICN also promotes the interests of nurses working in war-torn Ukraine. Here, the majority of nurses continue to provide care, in spite of personal risk (ICN, 2023b). According to a chief nurse at Kharkiv Oblast Hospital, ‘I haven't fled because I love my colleagues and care about our patients’ (World Health Organization, 2023).
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