Nursing has changed so much in the last few years.
Elizabeth Robb, the esteemed chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, says in Nursing Life on page 24 that she entered the profession because she didn’t get good enough A-level grades to go into medicine. That used to be people’s view of nurses - that they weren’t clever enough to do the job they really wanted, so had settled for their second career choice.
Much of the public still hold this view. I visited a nurse recently who wrote a prescription for a patient who tried to hand it back thinking the nurse “would get into trouble” for writing it.
Nurses are doing more than ever now - prescribing, diagnosing, running their own units to help keep patients fit, well and educated. They are saving money and lives.
But just as these things are happy innovations to be applauded - there are some aspects of nursing that make the profession feel ashamed. We further explore the ombudsman’s report on older people’s care on pages 12-15. This problem was compounded last week as Channel 4’s Dispatches programme revealed the standard of food in some hospitals is causing growing numbers of people to leave hospital malnourished because they cannot bear to eat it or because they are not offered any help to get to it.
The programme did speak to hospitals that have eschewed the heat-chill-reheat-in-trolley style of food in favour of fresh and tasty menus. It showed nurses who were working with patients in “memory clubs” where older people were encouraged to reminisce with their peers while tucking into afternoon tea, as well as meals that had been created especially for stroke patients, fed to them by ever-present healthcare assistants. The meals were tasted by the whole staff to ensure they were appealing enough.
So despite the impression conveyed in the mainstream media, nurses are doing incredible things - things that probably make Elizabeth Robb glad she became a nurse almost 40 years ago.