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THE BIG QUESTION

The big question: do you think the media is right to suggest there is a crisis in nursing?

The topical issue of the moment: do you think the media is right to suggest there is a crisis in nursing? Add your comments and they could be published in the magazine

This week, the Independent newspaper is running a series on “the crisis in nursing” with commentary from a columnist who has had dreadful experiences of being in hospital.

While we know these instances of poor care and bad attitude are always inexcusable, are they rare or are they becoming more common?

Do you think the media is right to suggest there is a crisis in nursing – or are these cases still isolated.

Readers' comments (25)

  • Poor care is inexcusable - but I'd like to see the areas where this is happening. I highly doubt they're well staffed, quiet wards. I'm not saying that makes up for neglect and abuse, but the fact is the media is all too happy to complain about nurses without looking at deeper issues because it's topical to. We're long past the days where you had two nurses to make a bed, now you're lucky to have 2 nurses when you really ought to.

    As a student nurse, I'm frequently warned off the profession by nurses, new and old, trained through all systems. I don't believe nurses have stopped caring or lost their compassion, I think they're just losing the time to show it and stress is eroding their ability to. The job as a whole has become harder simply because there isn't enough of us.

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  • George Kuchanny

    The crisis is in management not nursing. I really wish the Press would get this right.

    Just like the reporting of the charge of the Light Brigade as a daring British Empire military endeavour (it was in fact a horrifying and almighty foul up by the 'management' ) so is the reporting on nursing.

    Get under the story - investigate and report properly for heavens sake!

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  • Personally I would argue that the management are to blame, however, I personally believe that there are many trained nurses who deliver high quality care to their patients, I believe that one of the main problems is the untrained staff, they dont have the knowledge and education that RNs have and therefore are usually the ones seen putting a bowl in front of a patient and walking off. This isnt there fault, HCAs, APs and other non trained staff should have the support from the RGNs and ward managers. I also remember an incident a couple of months after I started working as a HCA and being called in to the sisters office, and was asked why I had washed all the patients hair in the morning! This was seen as unacceptable, and there I was thinking that I was a patients advocate, how wrong was I! On the other note wards are busy and under staffed and people dont realise how hard nurses work. I often find myself wondering why am I entering this profession? But as always I find myself thinking its because I care! Maybe thats part of the problem, maybe patients are seen as a 'task' that must be completed rather than the help they deserve when at their most vulnrable.

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  • George Kuchanny | 10-Apr-2012 5:55 pm

    how can journalists who have to produce articles rapidly 'get under the story' with cutting and pasting?

    wish they would though instead of all this sloppy and misleading reporting.

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  • The media lumps us all together. When our glorious leaders screw up, we all get it in the neck. This will continue until we disassociate ourselves from them. It must be obvious to all; that shop floor priorities differ considerably from that of managers. It's time to articulate our own ideas/views etc. we don't have to accept the status quo. I would also like to say, I don't blame government/media. They only do what they feel they can get away with. Simply, our leaders are rubbish. We have had our collective reputation assassinated, in public. I think a vote of no confidence in our 'Leaders' is required.

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  • It's open season on nurses! And will remain so whilst massive cuts to the public sector are taking place. It's not such a bad thing cutting thousands of nursing posts when the nurses are such an uncaring, unprofessional bunch. There are undoubtedly uncaring nurses. But they are in an absolute minority. There are also uncaring managers and politicians..and they are in an absolute majority.

    Chap at the top (Grant) is bang on in his view.

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  • It may be time to start our own committees/councils. Let's organise a guerilla type resistance before its too late.

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  • tinkerbell

    George Kuchanny | 10-Apr-2012 5:55 pm

    Here here George, my sentiments entirely.

    We all know there are some bad uns out there in nursing, but they are the minority and should be booted out asap and never allowed near a breathing person or animal again. They are a liability to the nursing profession and i wouldn't want them within an inch of me as a patient. There are some bad uns in every so called profession.They do a disservice to us all.

    But let's face it, management sucks, i say that as a ex manager who went back to the shop floor cos' i just didn't get it and couldn't stand it. Nothing made any sense to me. If it doesn't make any sense then it's probably not true. I don't even know how i got offered the post, well i do, they were a bit desparate at the time and rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic and i was better than nothing.When they finally got someone to replace me they asked if i would like to remain in post to which i answered 'no way Jose, how much longer will i have to be doing this until they arrive?'

    When my new manager asked how i felt about her taking over from me i had to reassure her 'i really don't want it, it's fine by me, you are doing me a favour'.

    When my new manager told me yesterday how fed up she is with it all i said 'i'm am so, so glad i never took it'. Afterwards i felt a bit mean as it didn't sound very supportive, but it was meant to be.

    Give the wards back to the hands on ward sisters who aren't too posh to wash.We can manage just fine without all the song and dance. This patient needs this, get it sorted, find me the best price, not the one manipulated by some government quango or dodgey deal, otherwise i will go on line and get my own quote from Argos. Right now i'm busy with the patients.

    Don't know if my spellings OK today, don't care much care either, it's the meaning behind the text/words that matters.

    Say what you mean, mean what you say and let their be no room for ambuguity which is what managers appear to thrive on, not making any sense.

    Now that we're all 'lucky' to still have jobs they can go ***k emselves.



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  • tinkerbell

    James Merrell | 10-Apr-2012 6:38 pm

    I was told once that i 'care too much' about the patients, I reflected on this and came to the conclusion 'bollocks'. You either care or you don't care and there ain't no neutral ground. You keep on keeping on and always let your conscience be your guide inthe words of Jiminy Circket (however that's spelt).

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  • Yes I think we are in a crisis. The nurses role is too complex now. We are taken away from the patients side so much now we are multi-tasking to the extreme and to the detriment of our patients.
    I also think nurses are not distributed on hospital wards were they are needed, by this I mean visiting other wards there are quiet areas with lots of trained staff and then elderly/acute medicine were we are seriously lacking in staff. These are the wards that get all the complaints. I cannot understand why this is not addressed.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 11-Apr-2012 12:11 pm

    I too wandered around for many, many years wondering 'how can this be?'. It was a revelation to me to realise 'maybe the majority of managers don't care'. It's all about what 'looks good'. It was a sad revelation but unfortunately true.

    When you come to this realisation that its mostly lip service and doesn't mean anything this you are mentally armed and won't wear yourself out wondering anymore once you understand. Then you have to develop a creative strategy to beat the system wherever possible and not allow yourself to become burnt out. Maybe my experience will help you understand and save yourself years of tormenting yourself with the question that took me years to find an answer to and learn the hard way.

    Just remember 'they don't care it's all all about looking good'.

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  • who are all these self-important non- uniformed women swarming around with clipboards calling themselves bed managers? do they actually have a useful function in the organisation?

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  • I have to say that the more of the comments I read on this website the more dispairing I get. I am at a management grade, yes, I have a degree and a PG diploma, and no, I don't see patients first-hand anymore, but I still care. I care enough about patients to put my heart and soul into teaching and motivating other nurses to deliver safe and caring care. I care enough to chase up surveillance data to try to improve GPs' practice, and I care enough to feel sad and angry when a report comes in about the same patient more than once. I care enough to still be working the extra hours for no more pay. It's ridiculous to say that nurse managers do not care. Just as some staff grade nurses appear to care more than others (I have met several in my time who don't), the same applies to nurse managers. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to progress 'up the ladder', to want to progress in your career and challenge yourself. Why shouldn't we, as intelligent practitioners, want to develop ourselves and yes, get paid more money? And also, however much some of you seem to think we don't need managers, of course we do. I'm quite willing to clean up poo, spend time with anyone who wants it (in and out of the hospital) and CARE! At the same time I firmly believe in the need for a degree-level profession and the opportunities to develop my career both professionally and financially. I also agree that there are not enough of us on the wards and that often front-line work is not satisfying for either nurses or patients due to the rubbish conditions (it hasn't been that long since I was working with patients) but that is no reason to slag off managers indiscriminantly. We come across as a whinging, fragmented, unprofessional profession on this site and I think that attitude is often why we are not taken seriously in certain circles. And obviously, these are just my personal opinions so I ask you to please respect them.

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  • Anonymous | 12-Apr-2012 9:23 am

    good comments but it seems to me that there is a discrepancy between what is perceived desirable by nurses in terms of education, training and career prospects and the current needs of the labour market at any one period of time. i.e. until the recent crisis and reforms the services needed more nurses at basic level but there was a lack of opportunities for many to climb up a career ladder so many dissatisfied nurses get stuck at the bottom despite further education and training and higher degrees for which there may be no available job and for which employers do not wish to pay the extra.

    I qualified at the end of the 70s and was always optimistic with all the talk and new schemes and training that conditions would improve and there were great opportunities out there. For some time it looked as things were at last beginning to go in an upward direction but now prospects have hit rock bottom again and one's career life time isn't always long enough to wait eternally until things get better again.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 12-Apr-2012 9:23 am

    Well done to you then. Not all managers are bad uns either i know, but it really is up to the managers to lead the troops from the top and that just isn't happening.

    Everyone appears to be covering their own backs just to keep their jobs and towing the line even when concerns are raised from the ground staff. I have met some really bad managers and i have met a few caring managers who are for the staff and patients. You are in the minority if you are actioning nurses concerns. Well done you.

    Unfortunately unless we are prepared to take some ACTION like the rest of us we are all just going to have to suck up the bad press as no one appears to want to do anything about it.

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  • Anonymous | 12-Apr-2012 9:23 am

    Well its nice to hear from a 'Manager'. Im sure you are excellent at your job, that you care. The problem is most of your colleagues do not. You do realise, disasters like Mid Staffs etc only happen when managers allow it. I bet there are plenty of incident reports concerning that hospitals short comings. As an RGN I've filled out hundreds. They are ignored by managers, that includes the verbal protestations; and formal written complaints. I would go as far as to say the 'problem with nursing' is managers. We are leaderless, not only that many managers are just bullies. At times you guys make my working life hell. I leave work in tears, shattered, bone tired. I ached form my work load, dehydrated from lack of a drink. Before you say it, there is no one to relieve me for a break.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 12-Apr-2012 2:21 pm

    You're right, of course. We had a previous charge nurse, lovely guy and i had a concern reported to me which i then reported to him and he in turn to the senior management who weren't interested at all. He said to them 'unless you deal with this i'm walking' and then they must have realised they'd better do something because it was dealt with. If only we had more like him.

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  • Anonymous 12-Apr-2012 9:23am

    I second that to the point that I have decided to leave nursing. I am exhausted it is slave labour disgusting.

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  • those who have the option to leave a dead end job in nursing are fortunate because unless one is young or can afford further training in a new career there are few opportunities. most worthwhile jobs require costly and lengthy training, certification and experience.

    In the days of the SRN it was much easier to change as nurses were sought after in many areas and their skills were regarded as transferable.

    For older workers to change there is also the issue of pension funds and other fringe benefits and then there is employer discrimination against employing older workers in new fields without the relevant experience.

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  • George Kuchanny

    I do not usually comment twice on any story but having read all the comments here including good managers comment and tinkerbell I think we have got to the root of the problem.

    I have intimate knowledge of a Trust characterised by poor staff morale and at times terrible patient care.

    I also have the same knowledge of a Trust where staff morale is high (much higher) and patients get a far better experience.

    The clear and huge difference is in the management layer. Staff are assessed properly, everything is more organised and critically staff levels are monitored and adjusted to workload. The rubbish Trust does not do this.

    Too many idling about in one part (bad for morale as boredom is no booster) and too few in another part (again bad for morale when you are severely overstretched and you KNOW people are not being attended to properly at all).

    I think this article and associated comments finally bring the truth into the light.

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