By: 26 March 2021
NMC reflects on extraordinary time one year on from the first Covid-19 national lockdown

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has launched a week of reflections on the year of Covid-19 – highlighting and celebrating the achievements of nurses, midwives, nursing associates and nursing and midwifery students who, despite facing extraordinary challenges, have been at the heart of the UK’s national response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, nobody could have imagined that nursing and midwifery professionals – working across all four countries in hospitals, in the community and in social care – would be called upon like never before. Coping with unprecedented circumstances, their skills, care, strength and compassion have undoubtedly saved lives and supported millions of people and their families.

Over the past 12 months, the NMC has been assisting hundreds and thousands of registrants involved in the emergency response – including former nursing and midwifery professionals across the UK, and those from overseas, who were eligible to join the temporary register – to-date, more than 16,000 people have answered the call.

They are also proud of the response from nursing and midwifery students who played a vital role throughout the pandemic and coped with so much disruption. The emergency and recovery programme standards were introduced to offer the flexibility that helped, and continues to help, thousands qualify from their programmes with as little delay as possible.

Stories from those at the heart of the pandemic response include:

  • Kirsty provided hands-on care for residents in the most vulnerable circumstances in her care home during the pandemic. The support she received from her colleagues helped her to realise what health and care workers are capable of.
  • Lucy joined our temporary register to support the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. Despite initially experiencing nerves about returning back to her profession, Lucy’s spark for nursing came flooding back and she remembered why she loved it. The temporary register re-opened the door for Lucy and helped her to realise that whatever role she had, she was helping to make a difference.
  • Alicia is a student midwife and is incredibly proud to know that she played her part despite the challenging circumstances. As she says, “babies will be born regardless of a pandemic” and keeping maternity services going has been so important.
  • Gloria is an Associate member of the NMC Council and was the Director for Midwifery at Bart’s Health NHS Trust during Covid-19. As a black woman and a leader, Gloria helped spearhead the ‘Turning the Tide’ project which focused on speaking to Black and minority ethnic colleagues who worked in the maternity services, providing the support they needed to look after themselves and others from these communities.
  • Rob is an adult and mental health nurse and NMC Council member. Throughout Covid-19, he has used his skillset to educate and support those on the frontline, including teaching students how to wear and remove PPE correctly and to support professionals to provide safe care.
  • Drew is a nursing associate and found the support he received from his team in the hospital crucial when reflecting on his experiences with patients. Drew’s experiences have made him a much more confident professional and despite working long hours, has realised the importance of taking time to recover and reflect.

This week’s activities also coincide with the National Day of Reflection, which encourages the nation to remember lives lost during the pandemic. As the UK reflects on the previous 12 months, the NMC pays tribute to those nursing and midwifery professionals who have made the ultimate sacrifice or have tragically lost colleagues, friends and family members to Covid-19.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, the NMC’s Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“Looking back over the toughest of years, the phrase going above and beyond doesn’t even begin to describe it – our nurses, midwives, nursing associates and students have stepped forward when the demands and pressures on our health and care services have been at their greatest. As their regulator we couldn’t be prouder of their inspiring contributions.  

“It’s been a privilege for me to speak with many nursing and midwifery professionals about their experiences over the past 12 months, and as the stories and reflections we’re sharing this week demonstrate, their expertise, kindness and bravery has had an incredible impact on people’s health and wellbeing in so many different ways.

“While we still have a long road in front of us, I’m confident the last year has taught us that when we work together there are no limits to what we can achieve. That means continuing to support our professionals so they can keep on delivering the most effective, safe and kind care possible and working closely with our partners to address inevitable challenges that lie ahead.

On behalf of the NMC, I’d like to express my thanks, admiration and respect to all of our nurses, midwives, nursing associates and students for everything they’ve coped with and achieved throughout this extraordinary year.”

“I would also like to thank everyone at the NMC for their dedication and commitment in making sure we could continue our important work during this difficult year.”

Karen Cox, Deputy Chair at the NMC, said:

“All of us at the NMC are immensely proud of what our registrants and students have achieved over the last year and we know it hasn’t been easy for them.

“No matter what role our registrants and students have played, they have seen the pain of those in their care, especially when their loves ones had to stay away, and they had to rapidly adapt to new ways of working to meet the demands in uncertain times.

“Nobody would have wanted to see the events of the past year. But if one good thing has come out of this, it’s that the whole of the UK has been reminded how important nursing and midwifery professionals and students are, and as we can see from this week’s stories, a light has been shone on the fantastic work they do.”