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'Nursing has changed but patients remain the same'


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.


Readers' comments (5)

  • There seems to be an 'area of conflict' in the 'evolution of the human race' and the 'so-called evolution of nursing'. Shouldn't it be sychonised?

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    Nursing is not rocket Science it is a instinctual behaviour .enhanced with knowledge. Nurses today have got some wonderful skills ,they just need to be allowed to nurse at the bedside where they should be .Not sat at a computer juggling time schedules. worrying about the time and motion ghoul .
    Another important area in the nurses life should be that she /he has support from the management. .Nurses today find themselves out on a limb if something goes wrong and .ignored when something goes right .lets have some equilibrium here.

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  • Actually patients don't remain the same. Every day nurses are verbally and physically abused, nearly unheard of 15 years ago.

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    I wonder if this problem has something to do with the attitude of some nurses .i am sorry to say this but when you employ people who want to train to be nurses Something they may have wanted all their lives and you say to them .that they have to go to University and pass exams ,work on the wards,Put in full time workload,deal with all the pressure this entails and for all this you will pay them the princely sum of Six thousand pounds a year. They have live they have mortgages ,some may be lucky and live with their parents. They often have to do other work to back up their income . and all this and maybe being verbally abused by patients according to the last comment. Who would be a nurse.

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  • I do not agree that patients stay the same. each generation has different expectations and different educational levels as information technology evolves and more and different types of information becomes accessible. Individuals and their pathology is also affected by changing and evolving socio-economic environments and
    by changing health service delivery, changes in life-styles, family structure, longevity, improved health of the nation, the appearance of new life-style related disorders and their consequences, such as obesity, stress-related disorders and as mentioned above leading to more impatience, anger and aggression amongst some of the many other influential factors. Heathcare professionals do not stay the same and nor do their patients as society changes, in any sense of the word!

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