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PM's forum should look at staffing and not 'beat up' nurses, says its chair

The chair of the review of nursing and care standards announced by the prime minister has said it should address staffing issues and not “beat up” professionals.

The Department of Health has confirmed the nursing quality forum chair will be Sally Brearley, who trained as a nurse and is a leading member of the patient and public involvement movement. She is also lay member of the DH’s national quality board.

The DH said members of the new group are due to be appointed in coming weeks and it is hoped terms of reference will be confirmed at a first meeting in late February.

Nursing Times understands a decision is yet to be made about whether it will focus only on nursing and particularly hospitals – or whether it could have a wider remit and be described as the “nursing and care forum”.

Ms Brearley said the group’s terms were not yet confirmed but she believed it could not avoid staffing issues.

She said: “We will need to look at issues like education, staff numbers and skill mix and how nurses are supported. Those are the basics. We should not tinker around the edges.”

Ms Brearley said the review would begin by reviewing other findings on the issue, including from the Prime Minister’s Commission on Nursing and Midwifery, which was set up by Gordon Brown and reported in 2010. She said it should also involve as many front line staff as possible.

She added: “I would like to think we are not going to revisit the debate about whether nurses should have degrees. I believe degrees for nurses are a very good thing, although we do need a workforce with people with diverse background and skills.

“[The review] is not about beating nurses up about delivering poor care and saying they shouldn’t have degrees. What message does that send to our young people and students to say that people with a degree can’t care?”

Readers' comments (11)

  • George Kuchanny

    Quite so.

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  • Latterlife Midwife

    Given (yes, it is a given!) that the hugely, overwhelming majority of nurses and midwives desperately want, and need (to even feel good about themselves), to give their best care every day, THIS becomes the crux of the matter: staffing! Both professional and support staff. The populace out there cannot expect the former without the latter.

    It's become an impossibility to give what everyone involved wants: individual patients, taxpayers, caregivers all want the best possible care, but we can only be in one physical place at a time, though we are juggling all the balls in the air all shift long.

    Cough up the extra money for a better professional staff-per-patient ratio, get rid of any slackers (all one or two of them per institution), and get adequate support people in for stocking, cleaning, feeding, etc. to free nurses and midwives to do what we were educated and are fairly paid (marginally) to do.

    If I could do my work to my best ability and satisfy my patients' needs on a regular basis, without nearly keeling over at the end of a 7.5-13 hour shift in sad desperation, I wouldn't even complain about the poor pay any more

    Ms. Brearley, I look forward to seeing what you can achieve.

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  • hear hear

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  • Absolutely agree; good to have someone talking sense for once.

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  • I am a student nurse on the degree pathway and I can assure anyone reading this that we do care for the patients wellbeing! I ALWAYS take time to introduce myself and make it clear that I am there to help in any way I can! I have seen bad nurses but that is the case in any profession, however, the good nurses far outway the bad ones! The problem in the NHS is that there aren't enough nurses to do everything that is expected of them. The paperwork is ridiculous to say the least BUT must be completed or leave yourself open to litigations! Can Mr Cameron please tell me how one nurse and one healthcare working on a busy ward can physically find the time to manage an hourly trip around the ward to chat to the patients! A quick scenario which I would love him to answer..... Two patients whome are both dependent and require 2 carers for moving both need assistance to the toilet but the nurse is doing the medication round and the healthcare is feeding another patient! What can either member of staff do here to make sure ALL the patients are well cared for (oh and they get the medications on time also) Wake up Mr Cameron and see the bigger picture! Once again undermining the very people that need a moral boost when things are so bleak to say the least!

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  • Joanne Morrell | 16-Jan-2012 7:44 pm

    I just wish your excellent comments and the many others like it could be published in a journal of influence where more of the general public and the likes of the MPs and PM might read them!

    After all much of what has been said about the requirements needed to provide good care is basic common sense, and nurses have expressed their devotion to their jobs and their patients and their desire to provide the best possible care with adequate resources to allow them to do this.
    If this were not the case they would have been long gone to jobs in other sectors where they are more appreciated.

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  • Staffing levels not promises is the most important factor. I would very much like to have the PM's nurse advisors or the Pm come to work on a 44 bedded ward where the nurse levels are down by 14 nurses. Come and see how hard the nurses work.
    It is the hard work and dedication of the ward sister who is keeping the present staff motivated.

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  • Latterlife midwife 16-Jan-2012 1:42pm
    Joanne Morrell 16-Jan-2012 7:44pm

    Good comments, wish the general public was more aware of our workload (and of course Mr Lansley and Mr Cameron) I have 10 acute medical patients per shift, with the usual mixture of poorly to confused patients. As an example whilst doing a dressing yesterday behind the curtains, in the space of 15 minutes:-

    1. A confused patient comes in the closed curtains asking where she and declares she is going home now.

    2. I hear a noise in my other bay of patients and another patient has fallen of his chair I hear he is ok but mentally, I think thats neuro obs, more risk assessments and incident form to complete.

    3. A doctor comes round the curtains requesting MSU, stool specimens, and also a prescription of IV antibiotics for a poorly patient.

    4. Infection control nurse who is doing an audit in my bay knows I am behind the curtains and requests that a patient be moved next to a sink due to MRSA.

    5. My patient who's leg I am dressing starts to tell me she needs the toilet (as soon as I can)

    That is just 15 mins of a shift! Oh I forgot as I wheeled my dressing trolley back to the treatment room a relative is waiting to speak to me.
    Please look at staffing cos I am mentally and physically drained, and of course according to the powers that be providing inadequate care.

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  • Anonymous | 17-Mar-2012 6:20 am

    don't know why I bother. I wrote a response and disappeared!

    In essence I said something about the problems of staffing levels which sometimes seem to go some way to covering basic routine on the wards which may even look ok on paper but do not take into consideration all the unexpected events which occur during a shift, some of which can be urgent and many of which need to be dealt with rapidly.

    More or less what you have expressed above but with more concrete illustrations but it does not harm to keep repeating the message.

    Sorry about the original post but hope you have a good weekend
    <:-))

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  • Dr Why ?

    'Nursing Times understands a decision is yet to be made about whether it will focus only on nursing and particularly hospitals – or whether it could have a wider remit and be described as the “nursing and care forum”.'

    Well, as the current push/plan is to provide much more care in the community as opposed to in hospitals, logically any contemporary forum about nursing must have include an examination of nursing in the community - or am I being a bit thick ?

    Of course, for various reasons, nursing outside of hospitals, is harder to both discuss and also influence - but there is far too much 'put this in the too-hard-to-tackle-drawer' going on, anyway !

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  • Juggling Dog

    People should not 'beat up' nurses or anyone else, surely !

    'The chair of the review of nursing and care standards announced by the prime minister has said it should address staffing issues and not “beat up” professionals.

    The Department of Health has confirmed the nursing quality forum chair will be Sally Brearley, who trained as a nurse and is a leading member of the patient and public involvement movement. She is also lay member of the DH’s national quality board.'

    That looks good - but if the review concludes that the NHS needs more nurses and more money, will the report ever be published, let alone acted on ? I think most of the previous posters would be sceptical about that !

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