SENs were entirely different from today's HCAs. They had an education in human biology, as well as training. They understood human anatomy, physiology and the changes and stresses brought about by disease and trauma in ways which HCAs just can't understand at present. SENs may not have been academically minded nurses, but they absolutely needed to know this stuff! Without a real nursing education with enough theoretical background, HCAs will continue to flounder when faced with work where understanding and interpretation of clinical data is required. Currently, too many HCAs are undertaking work well beyond their fundamental understanding and this places both them and their patients at risk. Many hard-pressed nurses forget that their HCA colleagues have not had their basic human biology education and their delegation of some clinical tasks can pose a high risk for patients, as well exploiting their HCA colleagues. We should value our colleagues for what they can contribute, but it's wrong to expect them to be the same as qualified nurses.
I resigned from the RCN. It's beneath my professional dignity to subscribe to some of the nonsense they put out to members. Of course, much of the growth in RCN membership is from HCAs, who don't have these professional concerns and may be easier to impress. It's all fluff and impression management now. This marks another step in the decline of once proud professional organisation putting its respectable history behind it.
Comment on: Former Mid Staffs nursing director struck off
I think this is the only right judgement. Some former NHS professionals convicted of serious offences have lost their pensions too. Some colleagues suggest it might apply in this case too, otherwise it's Fat City and no more need to work for even the most incompetent and uncaring NHS directors. There are issues of justice here, given the extreme and lasting suffering that resulted in Mid Staffs and some other badly run settings. Snag is, NHS pensions are paid based on contributions over a working life. There probably were some earlier jobs at which even the most useless director was deemed competent, so ought we consider depriving such people of lifetime's accrued pension, or just the super high rates for their most senior post?
Comment on: Staffing gap grows between NHS nursing sectors
Anonymous | 29-Jan-2014 12:14 pm has a good point. Like care homes, practice nursing is out of sight and out of mind for policy makers. My big group GP practice has gone in for skill mix dilution to homoeopathic levels. Apart from one NP doing her won separate appointment based surgeries as an alternative to the docs, they're all HCAs. I've no idea if they've had any preparation whatsoever, but they are clearly flummoxed by quite fundamental patient questions and they're working without any visible supervision. Me? I'm moving surgeries.
I agree with Roger Hudgson. Will managers who expose my patients to risks by poor staffing or inadequate equipment apologise? Will politicos with no sense of the harm they're doing apologise to NHS users who're being shortchanged to save their chums paying fair taxes?