The Francis report was clear that nursing was not working and made a series of recommendations broadly welcomed by the profession. Although it was damming about some nurses and the care they did not give it gave hope for the future. But this response to the detail and consideration in the Francis report feels a bit too much of a sideways swerve, a dodge even.
The Mid staff inquiry was permeated with stories of patients and relatives who felt invisible to the nurses who were supposed to be caring for them. Unfortunately it feels that the government response may have stripped out some of the elements that would have made the difference to day to day work on the wards. It does not mean that they will not happen but being left out today does not strengthen their cause.
For example the proposal of the key nurse that meant that an individual nurse would feel responsible for a patient’s care, the emphasis on how important it is for nurses to be present and active in ward rounds. Getting the ward sister out of the office and supervising staff and speaking to patients and relatives is mentioned but not supported in resource terms.
All these sensible and practical measures have instead been overshadowed by a scheme, not even proposed by Mr Francis, to have student nurses do a full year of pre-training training. A scheme so full of problems – how it is supervised, supported and resourced. What is the point/cost of continually training HCAs who will then disappear off?
The impact of the pre-training year will not be felt by the patients for many years, if at all. There are however some measures in the Francis report that will make a difference now. Let’s be sure that we don’t lose some of the good stuff and don’t let it be overshadowed by the crowd pleasing candy.