The day of industrial action certainly left nurses with a moral quandary.
Many of those we spoke to (see pages 4–5) decided to take action, but those who decided not to felt they just couldn’t because of their code of conduct. During my webchat on Wednesday I spoke to a few nurses who had declined to pick up a placard because it just didn’t feel right to “turn their backs on patients” as they put it.
One story that reached the Nursing Times office this week was of a nurse who had said she would picket “but only if the strike fell on her day off”. A genuine show of support - a protest maybe, but in terms of having an impact, such a universal approach would hardly make George Osborne run to get his calculator.
Of course nurses’ desire to stick to what they consider to be their “moral code” is admirable, entirely defensible and understandable. After all, the teachers and many other civil servants don’t run quite the same risks by standing outside their work waving banners and encouraging drivers to hoot their horns, do they? Little Sammy may not get his weekly dose of algebra on Wednesday afternoon, but it’s not quite the same as Moira not receiving thrombolysis to increase her chances of surviving her myocardial infarction.
There are fears (see page 9) that in “doing the right thing”, nurses are not making their feelings on the subject felt and their stoicism is being mistaken for acquiescence or apathy, and could be seen to back up David Cameron’s view that the strike was a “damp squib”.
So will the utter determination of nurses to do their jobs come what may put them in a vulnerable position in resolving this issue? If anything, their attitude shows how much more nursing should be valued – and rewarded appropriately.
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