What kind of nurse do we want?

Since originally posting this on 13/10/11, as predicted, there have been more reports on the level of care provided in hospitals. The latest scandals have lead the government to propose that all nurses should spend time as Health Care Assistants. Link here. This is a tacit recognition that the current, degree-based training does not provide the kind of nurse we want. But it does not provide flexibility nor does it raise the status and importance of care within the NHS- Health Care Assistants will continue to be poorly paid (2012 , band2, £14,000-£17,000 ) . This is what I said back in 2011…….

Another report about poor levels of nursing care in NHS hospitals. I suspect that, as the Lords have passed an unpopular bill on the privatisation (sorry, reform) of the NHS, we may well see a few reports of this sort.

This report focuses on the lack of everyday care for elderly patients in NHS hospitals. As far as I can tell, the medical care provided has not been put into question by this report.

Personal anecdotes of individual failings have flooded the airwaves- lack of feeding, changing, talking, informing.

Well I can add an anecdote of my own.  Someone I know, not academically minded, worked in a care home after dropping out of school. She couldn’t handle the words that she found difficult to read. She did well and built up a rapport with her patients- coping with their idiosyncrasies as well as their ailments. She found something that she was good at and was appreciated by the people she helped. Paid a minimum wage.

She decides that she wants to go into nursing. She has the basic caring skills and empathy towards her patients. The obvious route for her would be to become an “entry level” nurse or an apprentice nurse. She could work in a hospital and do what she already does very well: talk to patients, make sure they eat, change the beds, talk to relatives, tell higher ups of any concerns there may be. She could build up extra skills on the job, through short courses, and, if she wanted could develop expertise in a particular area of nursing, increasing her salary and standing as she goes on.

No. To become a nurse she has to go to university. Which she has. Because she is determined. Instead of caring for elderly patients in a hospital, she has to write an essay on social constructivism.

Yes, it is an important aspect of medical care, how and why it is provided. But for the caring nurse I have in mind, she is being confronted by what she is least able to do and what she is evidently able to do-care for patients- is devalued. This report suggests that the role she could play and the skills that she has are sorely missed.

Note 28/7/15 The person as I use as an example has graduated and has been offered a job!


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