Monday, 16 July 2012

A rant about nursing-related issues

A return to this much-neglected blog, prompted by two pieces of news read/heard in the last week:

The first was the appalling death of a young man in hospital, who died from lack of fluids. He was so desperate, that he phoned 999, but when the police arrived, they were turned away. There were underlying problems, of course, and I'm sure there are other sides to this story, but the bare facts are that a young man was desperate for water, and nobody gave him any.

The second is the astonishing revelation that in some hospitals, agency nurses are earning up to £1600 per day. Hospitals are so desperate for staff, they are having to pay out enormous sums for nurses who (through no fault of their own) probably often don't know the patients or their diagnoses, or where the bedpans or dressings are kept. Because of course they are often new to that particular hospital, and haven't had time to familiarise themselves with the ward/dept in question. The next time you are in hospital, one of these nurses may be caring for you.

My point? When, oh when, is someone going to do something about the current state of nursing? And please let's bring back the old bedside SENs, even if we have to continue to have graduate nurses. With good bedside nursing, that young man would almost certainly not have died. And with enough trained bedside nurses, we wouldn't need nearly so many very expensive agency nurses. It seems we are stuck with graduate nurses (expensive to train, and often with inadequate hands-on experience), but the SENs would be a start, and a very good one. Also, bringing back their training would mean that many young people without the desire or the qualifications to be university students could still be nurses. Real nurses. Who look after people.

Oh, and who make sure they have water to drink.


  1. I cannot understand it, Frances - he was desperate for water so they sedated him? Wouldn't it have been easier just to give him a drink?

    As for the agency nurses - where's the sense in it? I agree wholeheartedly about bringing back SENs.

    Oh for some common sense!

    1. One of the problems is that nobody will do anything until something happens to affect them personally. And then they usually daren't complain. That's why we need a campaign.

  2. I watched the interview with his mother today. It seems unbelievable.

    I have worked on the ward of a hospital in 'the old days' of Sisters and Matrons. My professional training in my final (totally unrelated) career made it necessary that I understand all sides of a case (because you can't be a good advocate for a point of view if you don't understand the opposition). I have friends who are nurses. I feel, therefore, that, for once perhaps, I am qualified to comment.

    There are many problems but one which can give rise to that sort of situation is that nurses are often untrained for the job in hand. In some (perhaps many, perhaps all) health authorities patients who are in need of critical care requiring specialist nursing and a high nurse/patient ratio) are farmed out to other wards e.g. rehab wards with nurses trained in a different field and low nurse/patient ratios.

    However it has long been one of my hobbyhorses that we, the great British public, with our greed and lack of understanding are, in many ways, the authors of our own fate. We have followed the example of those on the other side of the pond and, egged on by the greed of the legal trade (sorry profession), sue on every possible occasion. As a result we have turned nurses from carers into self-preserving paper generators. Everything has to have a paper trail in the event of a possible litigation. So those nurses who no longer can stand being scribes instead of carers leave or fall in with the system with the consequences that we can all see.

    The saddest thing is that there is no solution. There is no way back.

  3. I believe litigation is responsible for a great deal, but surely it can't explain the lack of basic care? And nurses are finishing their training with degrees and theory, but not nearly enough clinical practice. I have likened it to flying an aircraft. Who would you prefer as your pilot:,one who has a degree in the theory and a few flying hours, or one who has trained in the cockpit? I know which I would go for!