It can be tempting to talk, as nurses in a more economically developed country, of the responsibility we have to support our colleagues in the “developing” world. However, in many of these countries’ nurses provide most or even all of their communities’ healthcare, so it should be considered that in re-joining the International Council of Nurses, re-joining a global platform, UK nurses actually gain something from these colleagues.
Since giving up membership, both the nursing profession in this country and our Royal College of Nursing have experienced crises in leadership and voice. A recent World Health Organisation exhibit in Geneva celebrated vaccination as one of the greatest inventions in history and nurses in lower-income countries were demonstrably integral in educating their communities, tackling distrust, protecting the most vulnerable and reaching the most inaccessible places. We in the UK could definitely learn something from such tenacious role models.
And we cannot forget our responsibilities. A worrying number of health policy makers and commentators consider raiding other countries to tackle our nurse staffing crisis an acceptable approach. We simply can’t take such a selfish approach while also refusing to participate in a global nursing federation. We should also strongly consider the We Are Global Nurses campaign argument that we can meet our responsibilities to protect this profession and our patients by uniting globally, to have the most influence over nurse staffing and conditions both here, in the face of a shocking 40,000 vacancy rate, and around the world.
We are stronger together; we have a responsibility to support our nurse colleagues across the globe and so much to gain from them in turn.
Rebecca Harper is a Senior Staff Nurse