Thursday, 5 January 2012

Naughty nurses

Nurses are getting a rough ride from this report, which concludes that some nurses are poorly trained and ill-equipped emotionally to care for patients who are sick and dying.

I'm afraid I agree with it to some extent (and to a much greater extent on the basis of aspects that I simply cannot air because we don't live in a society where blank truth is acceptable), because I have seen, first hand, on many occasions, so-called registered health care professionals, treating patients with a complete lack of care or compassion. But you have to remember that many 'nurses' are not registered and only carry the title very loosely to describe their line of work in the 'caring' professions. Many Care Home 'nurses' are nothing of the kind and give real nurses a very bad name indeed.

Neither should we let newspaper stories, based on such reports, runaway with reality; there are still a large number of nurses out there who care very much about what they do and that is why they do it. It's still a minority of bad eggs... but it seems to be a growing minority. If the Government hadn't been so desperate to recruit more nurses rapidly, back in the early 90's, using so-called fast-track training programmes, we might not have this mess.

A 2006 report into nurse shortages and the consequent importation of international nurses into the UK argues that the way they were recruited, and the methods used to train them, caused bigotry and created a disingenuous system of patient care.

As with all professions with shortages at a time of general unemployment, as soon as an opportunity becomes available for those seeking any form of work that is less handsomely paid against their usual occupations in descending fields of endeavour, they flock to it. This may actually be happening with my own profession; there was a sudden shortage of paramedics and a coincidental shedding of jobs in the City and elsewhere, attributable to the market slump, and a popular diversion towards ambulance work from individuals more used to calculators than ECGs. This, of course, does not necessarily mean they will become bad paramedics but I wonder at the reasoning behind some choices. Sure enough, people move into the NHS from all sorts of disciplines because they want to make a difference but how many paramedics, nurses... indeed future doctors, are simply in it for other, less humanitarian reasons?

I remember driving to a Nursing Home in the worst of the snow a few years ago. An elderly woman had gone into cardiac arrest and was lying on the floor of the place, with five or six 'nurses' standing over her. It had taken me and my crew mate longer than normal to get there due to the severe weather, and we'd skidded on the road several times, even at low speed. It was essential that somebody took control form the outset and did the right thing. They would have been asked by the 999 call taker to start CPR; they would have been given the option to do it but would have been allowed to decline if they so wished.

Unfortunately for someone's sister, mother and grandmother, every single health care professional in that place declined to do anything to help her, and I was left with the task of calling it before I'd even given it a chance, because there wasn't one.

The bottom line here is, why would you do a job that involves high tolerance and an understanding of human nature if you don't really want to?

Meanwhile... you don't hear of THIS sort of thing every day, do you? What a very lucky lady!

Be safe.


Fiz said...

It's nice to see you back blogging, Stuart. I hope you and Jacque will have a much happier year this year. xxx

Inga said...

I am a registered UK Level 1 nurse. When i worked as a care assistant in Nursing home i saw so many situations when nurses are not allowed to do anything to save life, just because there is the rules. I used to work in ambulance service in Latvia, 4 years i worked as a specialized nurse in critical care. In England i left my job just because i am not somebody who can wach people dying and do nothing especially if i now everithing but can't do anything. That is wrong. Now i am going to University to gain that level which allows me to save lifes, not just waching the last breath.There is even a proper equipment in UK nursing homes to work with! I agree with you completely,that nurses do need a better training.

Anonymous said...

I really love your blog :)
I'm hoping to fulfil my dream of becoming a paramedic but some thing I've done in the past is haunting me and I'm not sure how that might effect my life...... I'm actually ashamed to say what it is.