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Acknowledging the current context

28 January 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 2


Sam Foster, Chief Nurse, Oxford University Hospitals, considers the stressful situation of the frontline response to COVID-19, and reflects on a gap between ideal ratios and reality

What keeps me awake at night? Usually it's nothing work related but in recent weeks the delivery of safe staffing certainly has. As the ultimate accountable registrant to the Trust Board and external regulators for safe staffing, the current response required to meet the demand of patients is possibly the most challenging time of my and many chief nurses' careers. Joining daily local system and regional calls to work together to make decisions relating to transferring critically ill patients across the region, with the aim of caring for patients in the safest place in the area, has led to colleagues sharing their respective deteriorating nurse staffing ratios.

The UK Critical Care Nursing Alliance (UKCCNA) has recently released a position statement, circulated by NHS England and NHS Improvement to all Chief Nurses. This acknowledged the enormous pressure that critical care nurses are experiencing at present and the significant negative impact this is having on nurses' mental health and wellbeing (UKCCNA, 2021).

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