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Sunderland nurse leader supports global celebration of his profession

Nurses from the University of Sunderland

Published on 16 January 2020

The University of Sunderland is helping to officially launch the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 at the House of Lords.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honour of the bicentenary of the birth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

Dr John Unsworth, Head of Learning and Teaching Engagement at Sunderland and a national nursing leader, attended the launch to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives, as well as highlight the challenges of shortages within the profession.

The University of Sunderland regionally is rising to the challenge through innovative new provision across a range of fields including nursing apprenticeships. The Apprenticeship programme, developed in partnership with NHS trusts across the North East, aims to help the NHS save millions of pounds by tackling nursing staff shortages in the region.

Dr Unsworth, who is chair of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, a charity that works to improve the nursing care of people in their own homes, was invited to the House of Lords by Baroness Mary Watkins of Tavistock, an emeritus professor of nursing at Plymouth University and cross bench member of the Lords, who hosted the reception.

Dr Unsworth said: “I was delighted to have been involved in the official launch of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, 2020. This is an important and unique opportunity for us to showcase the extraordinary contribution nurses make to the lives of people and our communities every day.”

The 2020 celebration will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to commend the work of the 20 million nurses and midwives globally. It is also an opportunity to highlight the estimated shortfall of nine million nurses by 2030, across the world.

Dr Unsworth explained: “In the UK the NHS has more than 43,000 nursing vacancies with other nursing posts in the independent sector and social care masking the true scale of shortages. Tackling vacancies requires investment in retention and an increase in the numbers of nurses training.

“The University of Sunderland locally has risen to this challenge developing innovative new provision across a range of nursing fields including nursing apprenticeships.”

Sue Brent, Head of the Sunderland School of Nursing, added: “I’m delighted our university is supporting this milestone in the history of these two professions which are so invaluable to people’s health everywhere.

“The staff, students and NHS partners we work with have a real passion for what they do and we are wholly committed to delivering high quality, job-ready graduates who will make a real difference to patient care.

“As our school continues to grow, we are looking forward to continuing the exciting developments with our students and partner Trusts over the coming years.”

For more information about Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020, go to: https://www.who.int/campaigns/year-of-the-nurse-and-the-midwife-2020 , https://www.2020yearofthenurse.org/