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Anne Milton: a letter to Nursing Times readers


We want nurses to be free to spend more time caring for their patients on their wards and in the community, rather than being stuck in offices overloaded with paperwork.

That’s why so many of us became nurses in the first place - to care for people, not to fill forms in.

I know that uncertainty can be daunting, and I know that frontline nurses can be suspicious of politicians. But the white paper is genuinely about giving you more control. As more trusts become employee led social enterprises, nurses will have the chance to really influence how their services are run.

We’re going to strengthen the relationships between hospital nurses and community nurses, so that patients are looked after before, during and after discharge. By working together better we can cut avoidable readmissions.

Nurses will continue to be at the heart of the health service. It’s the NHS itself that will change. It will be less process driven, and more focused on what really matters - better outcomes for patients.

I think most nurses would agree that’s the right direction of travel. We’re the caring profession, not the bureaucratic profession. After all, no one I know signed up to tick a box or meet a target.

Anne Milton, health minister

PS To have your say on the white paper, make sure you take part in the consultations. For updates on the consultations and the white paper, follow us on twitter @DHgovUK


Readers' comments (36)

  • Here's a clue then Anne, stop taking us for granted and get more Nurses on the wards.

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  • I never ever thought i'd agree with Mike from seeing some of your viewpoints on other subjects (although very well justified...but not for me, but in all seriousness agreeing to disagree is a good debate isnt it?) but thats simple statement is key....personally I cannot take much more, I am in forensic mental health and our staffing levels have been "reviewed" all for cuts and savings, although i despise the tories I ilke their policies on health....but for f***s sake will they just do something now and cut anyone on bnd 8 and above that has no direct patient input as of now.
    I risk getting my bloody neck broke every shift i'm on with some very dangerous criminals because the tossers who are paid more decide that four staff is enough to look after the most serious mentally unwell just not having it anymore, as much as i do put patients first Im just do not want to be murdered at work...what have the RCN done about it...sweet fa, im up for striking with mike if this goes on, i might even buy you a pint at the picket line

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  • Anonymous | 20-Jul-2010 4:26 pm, it is difficult to say which aspects I have disagreed with you on because of your moniker, but I do not mind people disagreeing with me at all, and I love a good debate as long as it is civil, it is one of the best ways I can reinforce or change my own beliefs/opinions. Noone can agree on everything!

    But hey if you're up for the picket line mate then the more the merrier! (And I'll never say no to a pint!)

    You raise two important points though, the fact is that the government are actually trying to do something decent with this white paper and cut beauracracy and management, but as always Nurses are seen as a soft touch and are being targeted by directors and executives as a way of saving their own skin, on top of the already borderline criminal cuts and staffing levels they have imposed for years. We cannot let them do this. It is time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough.

    Second you mention the pathetic and useless RCN. There has been talk on other threads between myself and a number of others about forming a new union, run by Nurses for Nurses. It may not be anything huge, and nothing is set down as of yet, but please feel free to join the ranks and put any suggestions forward.

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  • So does this woman want us to drift back to yesteryear where a great deal of care occured un-documented and un-accounted for. Or so it seems.
    It's either that or she is merely explaining that she has no idea that her waffling runs counter to the increase of paperwork and documentation begun in the then Conservative government.

    I want her to understand that nursing requires the phenomenal amount of documentation FOR the patients and simply saying nurses want to get back to the bedside is as backwards as thinking nursing requires a few people to spend a bit more chronologically impossible hours with people whom successive governments have failed to either maintain or attract to the profession BY DECENT PAY!!!!

    Ann Milton sounds quite naive if she doesn't understand that simply by being there patients generate volumes of paperwork even before any care has begun, nor does she quite understand that if ordinary clinical nurses rather than pre-retiree/ignorant (in the non-perjorative sense) persons then the volume but not the facts would be recorded.

    However whilst she dumbs down the complexity of our job to simply 'being with the patients' (which as we all know almost totally removes their independence unless you really leave them to try - duh!) i ask her to re-think what the direction of our profession is. We are Nurses not carers, counsellors, life-coaches, motivational speakers etc and thoug we may touch upon many of theses areas we are alone in doing so.

    To run counter current to the body-politic of all other health care professions in the acute (non-psych) sector is totally in-effectual in ensuring Nursings position which is central to patients lives, but we cannot do it well if we naively believe that 'spending time' with patients is a scientifically proven way to HEAL/CURE them which is waht everyone else is doing.

    Cut the waffle Ann, you are about to get a entire new set of Nurses in the duture who outrightly reject the cultural restrictions of the past; led by scientific advances we have emerged as the rightful practitioners of things though impossible to be carried out by ordinary nurses but you shall see. We shall take control of our working lives, but it won't be gained by clinging to the bedside, it will be achieved through the correct and outright application of scientific principles and not ritualistic stereotypical behaviour that dates our profession as olf fashoined and un-academic.

    Free yourselves from the bedside. The issue is about pay and fair renumeration not how much time is spent with patients.

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  • Soeey iaove i meant to say if ordinary nurse defined their own paperwork then certain over-documentation issues would be avoided

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  • geez they should've at least kept the spell check and option to edit feature from the last forum.

    why is that when you join and forum etc and they decide to improve it it's always less functional than before?

    Do web designers really have a continually depreciating view of our intellect. bad typing excepted!!!!!!!! Aaaargh!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • I dont mean that in a bad way mike, I also don't believe you do absolutes in the way you describe in the written word and when push comes to shove you are just as likely to hold an old ladies hand on your dinner break because shes frightened as much as anyone else is.
    What is a defiente yes or no, right or wrong, black or white area is how much I just cannot take much more from idiots like annette milton who just seem to think this will magically happen with how structures are right now....i am a matter of weeks even shifts away on some days from just jacking it all in with how muppets decide whats best for my working day without consulting me about it. Like you Mike Im a bloody good nurse, im not particulary arsed about money, a higher banding, what course im going on next etc...all i ever wanted from this lark was to meet people i would never have met in other circumstances and sahre life with them in a way only nursing allows, if all this means is sitting with a stranger talking about the weather, football and when the time comes right to ask what I can do to make them feel better than they would have done if we hadn't shared the same piece of flooring that day....I cant even do this anymore as im so burned out i just cant be arsed as awful as that sounds. I do blame myself for this....but should I with how things are?

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  • Oh yeah and i'm sorry jjezz but that is disgraceful what you believe...nursing is all about the exhange you have with poorly people and pherhaps in this horrible world you can be the only person who actually outwardly gives a shit about the poor bugger who is frightened and in the most vulnerable of all positions in needing something from other people to fulfill the basics of exsistence.
    science my friggin arse...nursing is art, a grand performance and not just about curing illness. The 90 year old man with every illness going can be the healthiest person you meet if he is happy and feels loved...a 21 year old with supreme physical condition can be the unhealthiest if they spend all day alone and dislike sound a right knob!

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  • Nursing is about maintaining and restoring function. the interaction with to your patients is secondary to your responsibility of maintaining SAFETY, which relies on your knowledge of the body and the interactions of the therapies you are providing.

    Having good interactions with patients is something natural that elies on our basic humanity and the very fact i/we are doing this job clearly reflects that we want to be with the patients and supporting them.

    However we must not pretend that simply interacting with the patients is the frontal dimension of nursing - it is not.

    Nursing is no more an art than physiotherapy, medicine or social work and if our job had a bit more clinical stability in terms of equal knowledge and ability people wouldn't be able to hide their incompetence of basic haemodynamics by assuming they are there to be the patients cheerleader alone.

    Every job in the NHS relies on patient interaction and we certainly do not hold the gamut though evidently we are the best at it.

    As for your last comment, your ridiculous and baseless assertions have no evidence whatsoever so although i might sound like a knob i can rest easy knowing that the treatments and therapies that actually have a measurable effect are found not from the pseudo-scientific approach but from scientific evidence and principles.

    A 90 year old with multiple co-morbidities is going to feel ill.

    Don't arrogantly walk around thinking that your interaction with patents is beneficial. you aren't doing anything that can be taught as good people skills are only as useful as the patients you attempt to bounce them off. But mark my words, they want to know you can keep them safe and alive. You are a perfect stranger n- at least in the acute setting and your one size fits all approach that people like yourself insist on using merely hides the fact that you know so little about what's really going on that you have to compensate by pretending to be a counsellor when in fact you are not.

    Don't walk around assuming they are 'frightened etc' they have seen and experienced more chages than you ever will in their life times, ones that are far more significant that VHS vs Betamax and the internet.

    The difference between me and you is that you are patronizing your patients whreas i respect them as adults, not to be molly-coddled and babied. Thye are in hospital for a reason and 100% of the time it is NOT FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT - fool!

    Count it!

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  • you are a CBT and systemic therapist as well as being an RMN.
    I do not know why people like you think nursing is right for them...been better off in mechanics wouldnt you?

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