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Nurses worldwide facing "mass trauma" amid COVID-19 pandemic: report

(Xinhua)    09:53, January 14, 2021

GENEVA, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- COVID-19 is causing "mass trauma" among the world's nurses, and the global number of confirmed nurse deaths now exceeds 2,200, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said Wednesday in a report.

"With high levels of infections in the nursing workforce continuing, overstretched staff are experiencing increasing psychological distress in the face of ever-increasing workloads, continued abuse and protests by anti-vaccinators," the council said.

Preliminary findings from the council's new survey of its 130-plus national nurses associations (NNAs), coupled with studies by its NNAs and other sources, suggest that the COVID-19 effect is a unique and complex form of trauma, with potentially devastating consequences in both the short- and long-term for individual nurses and healthcare systems they work in, it said.

The council's data showed that, since the first wave of the pandemic, the proportion of nurses reporting mental health distress has risen from 60 percent to 80 percent in many countries.

The pandemic risks damaging the nursing profession for generations to come unless governments take action now to address the COVID-19 effect, it said.

The world is already short of six million nurses, with another four million due to reach retirement age in the next ten years. With the COVID-19 effect potentially leading to even more nurses leaving the profession, governments must act now to protect the nursing profession, it said.

According to the council, the Japanese Nursing Association says 15 percent of hospitals across Japan had nurses resigning their jobs, and some 20 percent of nurses reported that they had experienced discrimination or prejudice amid the spread of the first wave of the pandemic.

The American Nurses Association reports 51 percent "overwhelmed". Other reports from the U.S. show 93 percent of healthcare workers were experiencing stress, 76 percent reported exhaustion and burnout, and nurse-to-patient ratios increased three-fold.

Howard Catton, CEO of the council, explained that not only "nurses are dealing with relentless, unprecedented demands from their patients, resulting in physical exhaustion," they also have to deal with rising death numbers, distress from patients' relatives, concern about lack of equipment and abuse from various communities.

"We are witnessing a unique and complex occupational trauma that is affecting the global nursing workforce," he said.

"COVID-19 has exposed the fault lines in our healthcare systems, but if nations do not take immediate action to shore them up unbreachable chasms will be created with potentially devastating effects", Catton said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Du Mingming)

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