Frank Field MP
don't read the menu options and go directly to the page content 

Nursing Report

I fear that many people could add their own experiences chiming in with the report the Patients' Association released today. The Association reports a consistent pattern of shocking standards of care that patients have experienced up and down the country. The Association believes that its report highlights the persistent unacceptable behaviour by nurses.

Their examples reflect my own experience. As my mother got frailer the numbers of trips to hospitals became more frequent.

It was when she was in Eastbourne Hospital that I first noticed how callous the attitude was of a whole group of nurses. Lunch had been served and the woman in the bed next to my mother had had a stroke.

As my mother ate there was terrible noise from the neighbouring bed. My mother encouraged me to go and feed her neighbour, and this I did.

The woman was paralysed and unable to reach her food. It was regularly placed there at meal times and then simply taken away uneaten.

The nurses commented how kind it was of me to feed the old lady. I didn't have the courage to tell them that it was their job; and that they had stood in a group gossiping, watching what I was doing. I was fearful that they would take it out on my mother if I did so.

Similarly callous and uncaring treatment was on display all too often in London hospitals. On one occasion I was walking down a mixed ward to clean my mother's teeth and was confronted by an old man who had fallen out of bed and somehow got his nightgown over his head.

His sounds of alarm were terrifying. I picked the very frail old man up, helped him back into bed, and proceeded to clean my mother's teeth. The old man's bed couldn't have been more than six feet away from a group of nurses who were trying to chat up doctors.

On another occasion my mother reported she had asked for a bed pan only to be told that staff were too busy. She should wet her bed and they would change her later. Not only was this incredibly humiliating for my mother but it must have led to more work later and higher laundry bills for the hospital.

Uncouth behaviour must have been part of hospital life through the centuries. Nursing reform I believe has made the situation worse.

The rush to professionalise nurses, and to make it a degree occupation, has brought significant changes in its wake. Nurses are now mainly trained in the classroom and not on the ward - so there are fewer people to help run a ward.

Making it a degree profession begins to change who is admitted to the nursing ranks.

Ticking the boxes to get a professional qualification is now weighted higher than the practical skill of caring, or indeed loving the patient.

That role, if it is performed at all, is likely to be performed by the ward orderlies. Composed largely middle-age mums this group has acquired many of the tasks that nurses feel are beneath the status of a profession, degree-carrying worker. But the orderlies are restricted in what they can do.

So patients have the worst of both worlds. A group of orderlies whose strict work routine forbids them from carrying out little acts of care for which it is absurdly judged that they are not trained to do, but many would like to do. And nurses, who have taken themselves upmarket in shadowing the role of the doctor.

There is no way these nursing reforms so called will be reversed. But there is a case for the Patients' Association continuing a campaign so that callous and wicked nurses are sacked. Hopefully the Association will also campaign for setting free the ward orderlies to do many of the tasks which previously nurses willingly undertook for their patients.
Bookmark with:


Showing comments 1 to 5 of 12

I think a read of this blog might help you regarding some of the problems regarding nursing care: in the NHS should begin with many of the bureaucratic 'fifth wheel on the NHS wagon' jobs; scrap the needless targets; place power and control so as to make the needed decisions back with the clinicians; allow local decison making and not cenral control; scrap internal markets & privatisation. As always it is easier to blame those few qualified nurses & medics on the frontline rather than the senior managers and the Dept. of Health. After twenty five years as a nurse in the NHS I am now considering taking my experience and knowledge to work abroad. I support the NHS but it is clear that politicians do not really care about ordinary people and their health care needs. You have been in government for thirteen years. You and your colleagues have destroyed public services. Hence I believe I and other nurses will be better off accepting the private shilling as people will get the service they pay for and need. Anonymous no. 6 has hit the nail on the head.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
Hello again Mr Field. I left a comment on your blog last week about my mothers so called care package from Wirral Borough Concil. Just thought I'd leave this comment today to let you know that my mother passed away this morning. A major contributary factor being her weakness due to poor eating, a service supposed to be provided by the newly privatised home care service. My mothers name is Esther Robinson. I believe she died unnessassarily early, thanks manely to the Privatisation of home care on the Wirral. Shame on you councillors that voted for this change. This problem is endemic accross the entire health service. Uncaring managers, uncaring staff and worst of all, a totally uncaring Council chamber. We must fix these problems if we are to become, once again, a caring society that values our elderly, this one simply does not. James Robinson. Heartbroken son.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
I read this in the Sunday times and there are a lot of sad things going on in this world but to hear of a paralysed old lady who couldn't reach her food was awful.Well done Mr Field for actually doing something about it but pity that you couldn't use you position to get something done as an MP though!.My first wife was a nurse trained in a hospital where they used to have those harridans called matron but having seen her caring for patients sometimes in the evening was a releavation Nothing was too much trouble for her and her colleagues and I remember one night a poor elderly man soiled his bed but the care shown by her to this poor man was an inspiration!. The poor soul died a couple of days later but the care he got in an NHS hospital was second to none!.Just what has gone wrong?, caring for other people is in my opinion a noble profession. Do these nurses not think that one day they to will be old and probably in Hospital themselves would they like to be treated thus?.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
Nurses should nurse the patients - oh please don't call them clients - which means washing them, feeding them, turning and moving then thus preventing them from bed sores, providing them with bed pans etc when they need it - to be told to wet the bed how disgusting and degrading, would they do that to their own mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers? Perhaps they would and do? When I worked for the NHS the standard of nursing care was being ignored for the professionalization of the nurse - nursing should first and foremost be a vocation. It is not a job that one takes just to get some money - plenty of jobs out there that do not require care and compassion if you don't have that vocation in you. The managerialization of the hospitals rather than the care and treatment and the need for holistic medicalisation has led to this downfall and uncaring attitude. As one nurse, joking, said that the NHS would be great to work in if it was not for the patients! That was a joke but sadly it is an attitude of so called health professionals from the managerial staff upwards and downwards and horizontally also.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011

Add your comments

RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
Toolbar's wrapper  
Content area wrapper
RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.

website by Hudson Berkley Reinhart Ltd