The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents a significant challenge for the entire world.
As a professional trade union, patient and public safety will always be our first priority. On behalf of our members, we have a number of expectations of employers and the Government.
Everywhere nursing staff are working at the frontline, they must have the resources they need – including, where appropriate, protective equipment for their health, safety and wellbeing. We will continue to advise government and other experts about issues specific to nursing staff. We ask members to come to us with their concerns should they feel their health and safety or employment conditions are at risk.
The RCN expects employers to ensure that when members follow national public health guidelines to self-isolate, staff do not suffer any financial detriment or loss of pay for being away from work on account of public safety. Following calls from trade unions, the government has already extended statutory sick pay from day one to those who take time off sick due to the virus.
While we await more detail on the government’s plans for student nurses, we are clear that essential health and care needs of patients must always be undertaken by appropriately paid and qualified staff.
We are also keeping a watching brief on issues related to requests for retired members voluntarily to return work and the potential implications this may have for matters such as revalidation, DBS checks and pension entitlements.
The government must recognise the added pressure these developments are putting on an already overstretched nursing workforce. As the RCN, we will continue to raise the voice of nursing during this critical time for the entire country.