Thursday, 7 February 2013

I am ashamed

...to say I was nurse.

Once, I was proud and happy to be one. I loved my job, was well trained (without a degree - imagine!), knew how to keep my patients comfortable, could resuscitate without any problems long before I qualified, knew when a patient was about to "go off", and as a ward sister, was happy to wipe bottoms or do anything else that was needed. Nursing was about looking after sick people.

And now the huge problem with Stafford Hospital. A doctor interviewed on Radio 4 put it succinctly: "once, nurses did their job because they cared. Now they take it up to get a degree". The goverment wants, among other things,  to appoint a "Senor Inspector of Hospitals.  No, no, NO! Start by getting the right candidates - there are plenty of young people who would make execellent nurses, but don't have the academic qualifications to reach degree level. I know there are good nurses out there - I've met them - but there are some truly appalling ones, too. How can anyone with an ounce of humanity leave patients to die in their own filth, or pass by a patient who is thirsty or in pain?  As I've said on my other (much-neglected) blog The Real Nurse Campaign, a good start would be to bring back the SENs; practical nurses with sound knowledge who want to look after people. To continue to throw money at the problem is sheer madness.

What do you think?

24 comments:

  1. Over 50 yrs ago I remember visiting someone with my mother and I recall that the ward shone...gleaming floors, crisp sheets and happy nurses who were friendly....this is no longer the case sadly...and like all large organisations, there are those that do and those that look as if they do but in reality don't.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well said, Frances. You can't help but wonder how many dedicated nurses are lost because of this obsession with degrees x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they're going to have to re- think nurse education. Sooner or later, the penny has to drop that the current training isn't working!

      Delete
  3. Any money allocated to this problem seems to get thrown in the wrong direction. Instead of having enough nurses to properly care for patients 'they' just pay for more managers, for studies into what's going wrong and for PR people to try to persuade us there isn't really a problem anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've hit the nail on the head, Patsy.

      Delete
  4. It all went wrong when the government started pushing for targets and only so many minutes per person. How can you treat a human like a robot? Same goes for those house helpers who only have 15 minutes to wash dress and breakfast someone. It's appauling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My doctor son says that, too; that targets are the root of the problem.

      Delete
  5. Hands-on apprenticeships are invaluable and yet underrated

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just another example of the obsession with degrees. Call me an idiot of you like but in my opinion a desire to care for the sick (an actual want) will always serve you (and society) better than any degree. Time to go back to basics I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I've been banging on about for years, Colette!

      Delete
  7. Thankfully, my personal experience with nurses is rather limited, but the ones I have met were mostly good to me, and I hope they treated other patients the same way.
    I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who is willing to wipe other people's bottoms and care for them in so many ways; they should be paid a LOT better and their profession should not be inacessible for someone only on the grounds of paper qualifications.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you may well have a different system in Germany? I hope so!

      Delete
  8. Nurses and writers have this in common: they both must have a healthy dose of empathy.

    I agree with everything you've said.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly, empathy can't be taught. ThanksmYvonme.

      Delete
    2. Excuse misprints! My iPad refuses to correct them.

      Delete
  9. My mum was a nurse too for thirty plus years, and she was a ward sister of the children's ward at our local hospital for the last fifteen years before retiring. No degree, but trained to the highest nursing standards of the day. She stood for excellence on the job. She was a hard working lady who made sure that her family was taken care of as well as her patients. We both got optimum care. Don't know how she managed to do it all.
    One thing that stuck out for me, that she always insisted on, was that her nurses address the patients properly, and not call them by their first names, but rather as Mr. Thompson or Miss Thompson.
    She was a good nurse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I so agree about the names. It shows a lack of respect.

      Delete
  10. I feel your pain and frustration, Frances. Although I decided not to continue with my RGN studies when I left school (discovered I didn't like hospitals), it was all ward and class based - no degrees. And I really respected the sisters etc. Can't believe the difference these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rosemary. You nee to learn on the job.

      Delete
  11. You articulate an argument I'm familiar with (Mum was a nurse - as is my brother now).
    I'm not so certain that the cause of the current crisis (mainly of confidence in the quality of care we can expect from our NHS) can be laid wholly at the feet of increased qualifications.
    An organisation is the sum of its ethos - the values which inform it and which it organises around to deliver. Look at the NHS we have - run to meet targets; run to a market model; run for 'profit'! There is your real cause. People always come last where there are budgets and profits and targets to be manipulated and won. And the employees are not immune to the culture which infests their employer. Remember - these are the same people who have yet to see Agenda for Change implemented in full or honestly. These are the people who face staff shortages so extreme that some shifts can be wholly staffed by external agency staff (ironically costing more than f/t permanent staff). These are the people whose shift patterns are manipulated to ensure maximum budgetary advantage to the employer.
    Thing is - there ARE nurses on the wards who have no degrees. They are Nursing Assistants - the modern day equivalent of the old SN or SEN.
    'Professionalisation' of Nursing via the degree system was a) inevitable (given international standards and directions) and could have been used as a force for great good but b) was actually used as a cynical measure to drive down training costs and avoid employment rights.
    I'm sorry to disagree Frances - I just don't think that nursing degrees are at the root of the current evils.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for your comprehensive comment; I appreciate it. I totally agree about the targets (my consultant son would also agree with you). And I don't think the nursing degrees are the root of the problem, but they do eliminate many capable candidates. I think that degrees are fine, if they enable trained nrses to go on and achieve specialist qualifications. I just happen to believe that the best basic training takes place at the beside.There are some things that cannot be taught in the classroom.

    As for the nursing assistants, in my experience, they don't have the training of the SENs, nor are they permitted to gain the status of a trained nurse.


    But it's fine to disagree - what else are discussions for!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Frances. I should add - selection processes for nurse education do require to be tightened. But the same could be said for so many other professions - in law there are many who enter for status and cash (and can be bitterly disappointed!) and have the interpersonal skills of a wooden post; in medicine there are some who enter for the same sad reasons with the same sad skills... I could go on. Some responsibility has to lie with the Universities - however even they are driven by the financial imperative to ensure courses are full... even if there are unsuitable candidates amongst the good...
      My own (Scottish) experience of the Nursing Assistant is that they require to complete NVQs - which really are the old SEN equivalent. There's no barrier to them becoming RGNs - providing they gain access to the degree (which can be achieved via Credit Accumulation and Transfer for instance).

      Delete