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I’m not a grumpy old man, things just irritate me

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Every time I go on the M6 it is full to the point of bursting and I have to spend two days parked with a billion other cars near Stoke. No information is provided apart from one of those flashing motorway signs telling me not to go faster than 50 miles per hour because there is a queue between junction 4 and junction 136.

I want to call the radio and alert the nation to the fact that nearly everyone in England with a car is heading for Stoke. But you can’t use your mobile in your car, even when your car hasn’t moved for a week and so the queue continues to grow. And I will never ever get out of my car. Ever.

I also hate MasterChef. A load of people I don’t know cooking food I cannot taste for people who don’t eat it. Similarly, I don’t care remotely who is going to be the next Dorothy. They all sound equally loud to me. If they want it that badly, let them all have a go.

‘We all know that bad nursing care exists yet we don’t talk about it enough. And if we don’t talk about it, how can we do anything about it?’

Of course, I could just be grumpy. And, if I am, it may have something to do with the nice lady next door. Or at least the people who administered her last episode of healthcare.

I have mentioned my next door neighbour before. Two episodes of cancer followed by remission and a walking holiday around Cambodia. She is 79. She had a fall. Broke her wrist and shoulder. Recovered to lead a campaign against bad paving stones and she would quite probably beat Gordon Brown in an arm wrestling contest.

Anyway, she had a wrist operation last week. Straightforward little thing she said. Before going on to describe the care and organisation as “existing solely for the benefit of the staff”.

“Nurses didn’t talk to anyone,” she said. “Two of the nursing staff clearly didn’t like people. I spent most of my last day helping an old lady in the bed opposite me who they were ignoring.”

I shuffled about a bit and she asked gently, “Is this it now then? Is this what nurses are like?”

I counted to ten aware of my tendency to defend nursing and aware that it doesn’t always help, particularly if it sounds as though I am belittling or denying someone else’s experience. I shrugged instead and said, “Did you see any good nursing?”

“Yes,” she said, “but not as much”. The bad nursing stood out whereas 20 years ago it would have been the other way round. “I think they are nursing the circumstances they find themselves in and not the patients,” she added.

And, of course, it is unthinkable that this is a general insight into modern nursing isn’t it? Because sometimes we can get defensive, can’t we?

Good nursing makes us feel good, but poor nursing makes us feel… what? Angry? Embarrassed? Irritated? It affects us. It somehow changes the endeavour of nursing. We know it exists and we may even know it happens more than we would like to think, yet we don’t talk about it enough. And if we don’t talk about it, how can we do anything about it? And we should, shouldn’t we.

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