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.


  1. Frances, first of all, your blog is an excellent idea, and I hope it gets the attention it deserves. The introduction of all-graduate nurse training was probably driven by a fashionable notion that quality care can only be delivered by so-called 'professionals'. I have had first-hand experience of the extraordinary growth in numbers of nursing students at university. And, like many, I have my own sorry tales relating to the sub-standard care of family and loved ones, to tell. I remember a conversation with a woman who was returning to nursing after raising her family. She was depressed about the way she had been pressurised into getting academically up-to-speed in what she regarded as her vocation.

    Like you, I know that there are first class nurses. Those who are compassionate and empathetic. But there are also too many who see the caring profession as a means to an end. They would do just as well in retailing.

    I remember watching a Panorama programme where a reporter went undercover. It was predictably grim. Elderly patients left for hours in urine soaked bedclothes, etc, etc. A gentleman from the Royal College of Nursing remarked that part of the problem is that some graduate nurses are now, "too posh to wash." A little harsh, maybe, but there's a grain of truth in there.

  2. Thanks, so much for that, Martin. I need all the support I can get at this early stage!

  3. I'm glad to say that my elderly mum received excellent treatment from the nurses in both Great Western Hospital in Swindon and the West Berks community hospital in Thatcham. These medical staff were really making an effort to do things right

    On the other hand at the Royal Free yesterday I encountered a really lazy technician when having a procedure done. She couldn't be arsed and it was obvious that nobody would ever check up on her.

    So I think it is probably a matter of management, what systems are in place for ensuring that things go well. This relies on having the right structures in place and giving the boss power to insist on what is necessary.

    I am no expert and my anecdotal experiences probably have little significance. But actually what would terrify me about going into hospital is less the nurses than the other patients. Almost every time I've visited someone recently there have been other patients causing disruption- either poor creatures suffering in a neurological ward, or poor old demented folk in orthopaedic and convalescent yelling and sobbing all night and day. Very, very, very distressing and distracting, preventing other patients from resting and in many cases making them quite distressed and desperate.

    In one hospital we were almost begged by the sister to make an official complaint about a demented patient keeping mum awake day and night. As soon as we did, they were apparently justified in moving this poor person somewher else. I don't understand the ins and outs, but once again, I wonder if it is systems, not individuals, that are to blame. What do you think?

  4. Well done on bringing the problem to light!

  5. When can you extend your campaign to the colonies as well??? This is a terrific campaign Frances, one that I hope spreads world wide. Will do a few tweets for you!

    Judy, South Africa

  6. Jenny, I'm pleased that your mother received such good treatment, especially as the Great Western is our local hospital!

    Rosemary, thanks for visiting. If you agree, please spred the word!

    Judy, thank you. Tweets would be great (I don't do twitter as I would then spend even more time on the internet...)!

  7. More power to you, Frances! Those were my thoughts exactly when Cameron said that about checking on patients once an hour.
    Good luck with this new blog - I'm behind you 100% x

  8. Thanks, Teresa. Thanks, too, for becoming my second follower!