On The Pulse
“We cannot continue to invest in the same service models of the past. We need a radical shift in how the NHS sees itself, from a hospital service for the ill, to a nationwide service to keep us healthy.”
As a health journalist, grappling with statistics is a routine part of my job.
When I was asked to undertake mouthcare at the start of my nurse training back in 1981 I was taught to put on a pair of gloves, wrap a piece of gauze soaked in bicarbonate solution around my index finger, put it in my patient’s mouth and hope they did not bite.
When you park, do you turn the motor off as soon as your car is neatly lodged in its space?
When I looked out of the window last Saturday it was raining. Actually it wasn’t just raining, it was pouring. It was the sort of autumn day when staying inside seems like the sensible option.
Statistics are useful, but leaders need to hear real nurses’ stories if they are to fix the NHSSubscription
Besides the unexpected candour from speakers, what struck me most at our inaugural Nursing Times Workforce Summit last week was the level of engagement and participation from delegates.
With no end in sight to the nurse recruitment crisis gripping the NHS, I was pleased to hear this week that national efforts to retain the current staff who are keeping the system afloat are being redoubled.
It’s freshers time at universities and across mainstream and social media we have been seeing the inevitable pictures of students lurching around city centres in a drunk and dishevelled state.
As the NHS continues to face workforce challenges, the attention this week has focused on how the recruitment of people from outside of the UK might look after the UK’s departure from the European Union.
The path leading to the Royal College of Nursing’s extraordinary general meeting is turning out to have more twists and turns than I, and probably others, had originally foreseen.
Nurse handed caution for not carrying out CPR on “clearly dead patient” (Nursing Times, 7 March 2017); Prison told to issue guidance after nurses carried out CPR on “clearly dead” inmate (Nursing Times, 22 August 2018).
Have we forgotten that measles can be a killer?Subscription
Until the late 20th century measles was considered an almost inevitable disease of childhood – although adults are also susceptible.
I was contacted around a month ago out of the blue by an organisation telling me the good news that Nursing Times was to be inducted into an international ‘hall of fame’ for publications that have made significant contributions to the profession.
“We can no longer accept women and men with severe mental illness struggling to access the high-quality care and support they ought to receive during their lifetime and dying 15 to 20 years before they should”, wrote Karen Turner and Tim Kendall – respectively director of mental health and national clinical director for mental health at NHS England – in their foreword to Forward Thinking.
Nursing Times recently reported on the findings of a Cochrane systematic review into the impact of nurses working as substitutes for primary care doctors.
A few weeks ago a discussion on Twitter began with a plea from a frustrated anaesthetist.
Mr Hancock… we have a workforce problemSubscription
Two articles that have made Nursing Times headlines in July together offer a powerful warning about the future of the nursing profession. It is not a new warning but it is one that has been growing in significance.
Last week I attended an event to discuss the challenges facing the social care sector and how best to raise awareness of them in the media.
See yourself in the new nursing media campaignSubscription
This week we published a research study on how student nurses see their professional identity. Previous evidence has shown that by the time students are ready to qualify many are still not confident in this identity.
Hidden among this week’s many headlines on the 70th birthday of the NHS was an important piece of nursing research that also deserves a fanfare.
I have read many distressing reports into care failings by NHS and independent sector providers over the years, but the report of the inquiry into the care provided at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1989 and 2000 still shocked me.
For nearly two decades patient safety experts have looked to the airline industry as a model for safety and reporting practices.
Relaxing immigration rules is a start, but more work is needed to address workforce shortagesSubscription
Government plans to relax immigration rules for non-EU skilled workers, allowing more nurses and doctors into the UK, have come as welcome news this week.
At the weekend I was sadly reminded of the terror attacks in London this time last year and in particular the striking image of one of the victims – nurse Kirsty Boden posing with some sunflowers.
Last weekend I watched the BBC programme The Big Question, which explored whether robots and artificial intelligence could do more harm than good.
We must move care into the community to improve how we deliver services for patients. How long and how often has that goal been proclaimed over the last 20 years or more?
What is it that is happening across half of the UK that the Royal College of Nursing thinks could be a major catalyst in helping to tackle nurse shortages in the other half?
There aren’t many moments in nursing when you have a chance to pause, take a deep breath and feel the pride of being a nurse.
When doctors and parents clash, social media storms are causing too much collateral damageSubscription
On 25 April, the chair and the chief executive of Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust, where Alfie Evans was cared for until his death, published an open letter explaining that the organisation, its staff and even its patients and visitors had been attacked, threatened, abused and intimidated.
People can be slightly cynical about awards events. You know, all that clapping and voracious supporting of each other’s outstanding achievements can become wearing for some. But that never seems to happen in nursing awards. And I am glad about that.
When Aneira Thomas, the first baby born in the NHS – who went on to have a 28-year career as a nurse, recently saw a statue in Cardiff of the man who designed the health service, she cried.
Despite the increasing complexity of nursing practice there is still a significant number of people who think nursing degrees are unnecessary.
Who is going to step up to the plate?Subscription
Managing the nursing workforce often feels like plate spinning. You need to focus on attracting people coming into the profession while keeping hold of those you already have.
Has healthcare lost its humanity?Subscription
Do you think healthcare has become just about systems and processes so that the individual - staff and patient - are just cogs in the ever-turning wheel?
The talking is seemingly now over and we have at last got a pay offer for NHS staff on the table. It’s been a long time coming and I’ve become sadly used each year to writing about the anger felt at yet another freeze or nominal inflation-chasing 1% rise.
We’ll help you to become a nursing starSubscription
Just what does it take to keep a nurse in nursing? We’ve got the most appalling nursing shortage most trust chief nurses I speak to have ever experienced, and flu, norovirus and the weather have created the worst winter many have ever seen. It’s a perfect storm – quite literally – for nursing.
Reports that the government is considering offering NHS workers a 6.5% pay rise spread over three years in exchange for staff losing a day of holiday has, unsurprisingly, been met with a wave of anger and criticism among nurses.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Another story of a bullying culture among nurses in an NHS trust has emerged, just under five years since the Francis Report sent shockwaves across the country.
Vacancy figures are no surprise, but at last provide undeniable evidence of a profession in crisisSubscription
One in 10 registered nurse posts in the NHS in England are vacant. That was the figure revealed in the latest quarterly update from NHS Improvement.
In my experience, the ‘NHS winter crisis’ has been little more than a sequence of words that seem to crop up every year or so, get mentioned on the news, then disappear into a fog of yesterday’s news.
Google “Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba” and you’ll find a raft of supportive opinions from the British Medical Journal, medic bloggers and fellow doctors who believe she’s a scapegoat.
Unlike in many other European countries, responsibility for laundering uniforms in the UK has mainly been handed to nurses themselves. Gone are the days when at the end of your shift you could go to your locker, change out of your dirty uniform, put it into a laundry basket and then collect it crisp and neatly folded from the hospital laundry a few days later.
There are not enough nurses, the ones we have got are being demoralised because the NHS is not providing them with enough training, and many are working in dreadful conditions that means they cannot possibly provide care to the standard that is required and that they want to.
“When there aren’t enough professional nurses, things get missed, patients notice, and this affects their confidence in the quality of the hospital and the care they receive.”
Do you sometimes feel as if jargon does too much talking in healthcare? I sometimes hear nurses say that they or their colleagues use it to make themselves feel better about how clever they are, but in doing so, they miss the point – it doesn’t make their patients or service users feel better.
Who, in the UK health system, can honestly say that they have a clear understanding of the different job titles used in the nursing professions? Surely no more than a handful of people.
Hospitals are like foreign countries, where the familiar cultural norms don’t apply – or rather, that’s what they are like for patients. Where else would you disclose the most private information to strangers, or allow them to perform intimate – and often painful or unpleasant – procedures on you?
Are we taking mental health seriously enough?Subscription
In recent years, mental health has been a topic that has received increased coverage – not least due to changing attitudes and effective public campaigns aimed at removing the stigma surrounding the area.
Will the public realise the NHS is broken before it’s too late?
If I had an old-fashioned phone, and not my mobile, it would have rung off the hook on Tuesday. The national media were crawling all over the story that some researchers had found that one in four nurses in the UK were obese. I was being asked if this surprises me, why, and should we care?