Thursday, 26 January 2012

Caring and common sense

In order to boost my argument (that things aren't what they were in the nursing profession), and also to keep this blog from dying away altogether, I thought I'd give an example of what I mean.

Quite recently, one of my sons, T, was admitted to hospital. He was in dreadful pain, and since his wife couldn't leave her toddler to be with him while he waited for surgery, I tore up (as you do) to do my mummy bit and sit with him. So far so good.

When I reached the hospital, he was in an A & E holding area; ie everyone on trolleys, but with curtains between them. Fair enough. But while it had taken me two hours to get there, my son was lying on his trolley fully clothed (he hadn't even manged to take his shoes off as he was in so much pain), uncovered, with no pillow. I asked a nurse (who was hanging around doing nothing) if he could please have a pillow, and he (the nurse) looked at me as though I were mad, but found one for me (there was a trolley laden with pillows). T was on that trolley for several hours, and in that time, not one single person so much as looked round the curtains to see how he was.

Yes, nurses are busy, but nurses have always been busy. In this case, they didn't seem to have anything much to do at all. A nurse shouldn't have to be trained to have the common sense to make someone comfortable; any fool can see that someone lying on a trolley needs something behind their head (and trolleys are hard. Believe me; I know). No amount of training is going to instil that kind of common sense (never mind compassion).

This is a small example. Nobody died, and T made a good recovery. I have heard many far worse stories. But it shows that at least some nurses shouldn't be doing the job at all. Nursing is, quite simply, attracting some of the wrong people, while putting off many who would make competent, caring nurses.

Any more exmaples (good or bad!)?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

"Named" nurses

Nowadays, as anyone visiting (or being a patient in) a hospital will know, most patients now have a "named nurse". This is great, in theory, because (in theory again) your nurse knows you, and you know him/her. You are able to form a relationship.

The problem with this is that nurses, like everyone else, have coffee breaks, days off and even need to go to the loo. I was talking to someone last week about her sick brother. My friend had phoned the ward for a progress report, but the named nurse wasn't there, so no-one could tell her anything about him. Isn't that wonderful? When I was a nurse on a hospital ward, from my student nurse days up until my time as a ward sister, I had to know ALL about EVERY patient, even after several nights off, and I did. We all did. Because that was our job.

A few years ago, I was in hospital with a broken elbow. A delightful young man introduced himself, and told me he was my named nurse for the duration of my stay.

I never saw him again.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Bring back the SENs

I guess things may have now gone too far for a return to the old hands-on style of nurse training for Registered General Nurses (or SRNs), but what about the SENs (State Enrolled Nurses)?

These - for those who don't know - were nurses who were very much trained on the job to be practical, informed nurses. Often, they were people who didn't have much in the way of academic qualifications, but who really wanted to look after people, and they wer invaluable. They had enough theoretical knowlege to be able to spot, say, an incipient deep vein thrombosis, but didn't wante to go up the career ladder and be ward sisters. As students (they were known as puils), they trained on the wards. Every ward had its quota of SENs. But now, they are no longer recognised. Such a shame, and such a dreadful waste. For they, almost above all, would be the staff who would make sure that a patient was fed, watered, kept clean and comfortable; all the basic care which is being gradually eroded, for whatever reason.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A long time coming

This blog grew out of a campaign I started a few years ago (with a great deal of support) to increase awareness of the parlous state of the nursing profession. While I would be the first to agree that there are many excellent nurses, there are also some lamentably bad ones. Only last week, David Cameron said that every
hospital patient should be seen by a nurse or doctor at least once an hour. Once an hour? There was a time when it would have been unthinkable for any ward sister to have to be told to do this; it would have happened automatically.

Please feel free to comment, to disagree, to add your own ideas or experiences, or to volunteer to contribute a guest post.