Blog: International Nurses’ Day – Guest post by Linda Hobson a Nurse and UNISON Deputy Regional Convenor

This year, 2020 has also been designated the ‘International Year of the Nurse’ to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth

I am Linda Hobson, the Deputy Regional Convenor for the Northern Region of UNISON. I am also a registered nurse and employed at Newcastle Hospitals where I am a UNISON Representative and the Chair of the staff side trade unions.

I started my training as a nurse back in January 1994 and qualified in January 1997. I was immensely proud to wear my nurses’ uniform and soon got used to being called ‘nurse’.  I worked at the Newcastle General Hospital on the Neuro High Dependency Unit and then to the Royal Victoria Infirmary when the service transferred over to ward 18.

Every year on the 12th of May we celebrate International Nurses Day. This year I want to take the opportunity to recognise the efforts of the whole nursing family, not just here in the UK but across the world as they continue to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, 2020 has also been designated the ‘International Year of the Nurse’ to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and members of the public are being asked to Shine a Light from their window at 8.30pm on Tuesday night to mark the occasion.

Throughout my career I have had the privilege to work with many fantastic nurses and owe many of them a huge debt of gratitude for the support and guidance given to me. I have also seen the profession develop hugely with nurses now undertaking highly specialist roles whilst never forgetting the foundation of care that their skills and knowledge are built upon.

Nursing is a challenging but hugely rewarding career. From personal experience, I have cried and laughed with colleagues on so many occasions where that sense of camaraderie, of belonging to a team is so important. This has been particularly highlighted across nursing during the current crisis. Seeing our nurses in their workplaces, day in, day out, battling the greatest health crisis we have ever faced, each and every one of them employing their professionalism and skills to not only save lives but to also help rebuild lives. Many nurses are risking their own lives and sacrificing time with their families to help those suffering from COVID-19.

The public support for all our key workers has been phenomenal. It has meant so much too so many of our nurses, helping to boost morale when it is most needed. However, as well as our thanks and our praise, the health, safety and wellbeing of our healthcare workers is also crucial. We have seen too many deaths of healthcare workers from COVID-19. UNISON has been overwhelmed with concerns from members regarding the lack of safety measures within their workplaces. UNISON are continuing to push the Government to guarantee safe measures for all staff and demanding proper PPE for all staff who need it, for every day that they need it. You can add your voice to the petition here.

As a UNISON workplace representative, I know we will continue to play a vital role during the next phases of this current crisis, offering support, guidance and representation, helping to raise the voice of the workforce within the workplace. To my nursing colleagues who are not in a trade union, I would urge you to join us this will be vital as we navigate through the next steps of this crisis.

I, like many of you, go out every Thursday night at 8pm to clap for our key workers, our carers and our NHS. On Tuesday night I will be shinning a light at 8.30pm for the whole of my nursing family on International Nurses Day and will pay particular respect to those within that family who have lost their lives to COVID-19. Each one a tragedy for their family, friends and colleagues, each one will be remembered.

As the largest public sector trade union, UNISON will continue to challenge the Government and employers to not only ensure you get the recognition you deserve but that you also get the respect of protection within the workplace.

Happy International Nurses Day 2020 to the whole of my nursing family across the world.

Linda Hobson