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A win for the whistleblowers, and how to look odd naked


Beyond the Bedpan throws its considerable weight behind Margaret Haywood, waves a patronising finger at the NMC, and is dumbfounded by a ‘tanorexic’

Every so often a story comes along with such an obvious dividing line between right and wrong, where the good is so good, and the bad so stupid, that it’s impossible to sit on the fence.

For good, read Margaret Haywood, the whistleblowing nurse who exposed the atrocious standards of care being inflicted on elderly patients at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton. In the bad corner, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, who rewarded Ms Haywood by striking her from the nursing register, bringing an abrupt end to a distinguished 20-year nursing career and leaving Ms Haywood with no discernable livelihood. If you’re not outraged yet, watch this:

Source: youtube

One might argue that there are better ways to report bad practice that having it broadcast on national television. But Ms Haywood is adamant that she had no choice. Her managers wouldn’t listen, Panorama would.

As far as the NMC was concerned, nothing justifies a breach of paient confidentiality, not even exposing care failures.

The nursing profession rose as one to defend her, with politicians, doctors and the BBC adding their outrage to the pile. There was also an RCN appeal, and a petition attracting over 25,000 signatures. The end result, with more than a whiff of inevitability, was Ms Haywood being reinstated to the profession this week. There’s a lesson in there, somewhere.

On the topic of nurses reinstated, but without the professional ethics, the Lying Down Game gang are also back at work. Bless.

A tan too far

Compassion, restraint, empathy - all essential qualities for a good nurse. So Beyond the Bedpan would like to take its proverbial hat off to the nurse that featured on this week’s How to Look Good Naked.

It featured salon-owner Jane, a self-confessed ‘tanorexic’ who’s appetite for golden skin is sated only by injecting herself with the unlicensed and almost definitely dangerous ‘Melanotan’. Gok Wan’s team were swiftly dispatched to make her love herself as nature intended, and without the orange glow.

But first to the hospital, where the nurse on duty showed remarkable restraint by steadfastly refusing to say something like “Of COURSE you’re going to get cancer you psycho! And for what? You look like a pint of Tango.”

Instead, she opted for gentle reassurance, and noted with mild concern that the poor woman did indeed have a lot of new moles, might want to see a consultant dermatologist, and should probably stop injecting unregulated substances into her veins. The programme looked her up six weeks later, and was depressed to discover that she was still using Melanotan, and still sporting the complexion of smoked salmon. There’s no helping some people.


Readers' comments (25)

  • Another example of NMC inflexibility and intransigence. Support nurses? Don't make me laugh. If this woman had had other choices I am sure she would have made them. I remember being beaten up and left in a laundry cupboard for whistleblowing - no support there!! The NMC fails nurses on almost every level.

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  • The above comment just makes me want to cry with rage - beaten up and left in cupboard! Do nurses need to have body guards now!

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  • It's sad what happens to people who try to help others and put others first before themselves. They get punished for what?

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  • It is not correct to say that all of the nursing profession supported Margaret Haywood. Unison thought it was correct that she was struck off and has chosen not to report the case on their website.

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  • Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that real people and not those groups with their own agenda supported her. The NMC and Unison? Pah! Their agendas are clear and muddied at the same time. Ask most nurses about the NMC and see what really happens. The NMC has such poor management, such poor infrastructure, such poor leadership and such poor guidance that it fails on almost every level. I am ashamed that such a poor and indefensibleorganisation reprensents nurses - I have left nursing as a result. Many of the nurses for whom I have respect have either left or are feeling the same. The good ones are baling, after agonising, as ofte happens with a change of management for the worse.

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  • NHS management and the NMC need to get aware of the dangers of whistleblowing (or threatening to) there are some really uncaring people working in care who will do anything to protect themselves against change or efforts to address bad practise. I myself was lied about, had malicious exaggerated allegations made against me and scapegoated and sacked after trying to address issues in an old NHS facility. This unit had 7 Charge Nurses in the space of 5 years who all failed to administer change because of a clique. The clique are still there, and systematically abusing patients on a daily basis. Management not interested. Good nurses just leave these areas and leave "the trash" behind.

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  • I think many have been missing the point here. Look at the case in detail from the original hearing. Everyone agrees it was right to highlight the awful conditions in Brighton. But there is a process. The Line manager and ward manager is as far as Margaret went. She could and should have gone all the way to Chief exec. level before the media. She also was asked to take the job through an agency to help with the Panorama programme. Patients or relatives were asked retrospectively for their permission to use the footage. Prior to that she filmed without their knowledge and consent. In some cases other patient conversations can be heard in the background. At the end of the day the Code of Conduct regarding Patient Confidentiality was broken. Margaret no doubt is a caring excellent nurse, but sadly naive.

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  • I think that John (previous comment) is missing a few crucial points.
    Does he think that the Chief Executive would act with integrity? Not in my experience. When my line management and union failed to act on breaches in child protection and health & safety issues, reported by me, I sent a detailed report to the chief ex and he did not even reply. Meantime, I was subjected to further intimidation & bullying.
    The line manager & ward manager is as far as Margaret should have needed to go.
    How long does he think that Margaret should have waited for "someone" to protect the abused patients?
    I have not heard of any patient or relative complaining about the filming without prior consent. Filming this appaling abuse in Brighton was the only way to put a stop to it. Believe me, senior managers have no hesitation in lying when such matters are investigated through their policies. High on rhetoric-Low on integrity.
    Margaret was courageous and we need more like her. I would certainly feel safer going into a hospital if I knew that Margaret worked there.
    Kathleen White

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  • Do not be deceived - the NMC is not the nurses friend - it is an incompetent organisation that pretends to protect the public using your registration fees . No matter how many " jolly " publications it sends you trying to tel you otherwise - they are not on your side at all when it comes to issues like Margaret or any complaint made by an employer . They believe the complainant -( usually an employer) from the outset and they are incompetent and perverse in the fitness to practise decisions along with taking inordinate time to process these matters that lack transparency . The amount the NMC spends employing lawyers to investigate fitness to practice is enormous and it is in those lawyers interests, financially ,to drag any proceedings out as long as possible - The NMC funded by your registration fees are a complete cash cow to unscrupulous lawyers . It is time we started shouting about this - the medics wouldn't put up with it from the GMC.

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  • I can ubderstand anyone being angry at the support given to whistleblowers by the NMC. Nil!! This is how it has always been and this is how it will stay. I agree that the NMC as an organisation is weak, without giving any support to registrants. This is why I work overseas. I think that nurses within the UK are poorly represented on all fronts, both from nursing unions and the NMC. Wake up UK before the nursing profession dies in your hands!! This is only a matter of time

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