Nursing Times blogger Martin Jones wonders if the NMC code on receiving gifts from patients is too inflexible?
My blog about the coalition government’s budget drew comments about “wallet envy” so it’s with trepidation that I approach the subject of gifts from patients.
The NMC code states that as a nurse I “must refuse any gifts, favours or hospitality that might be interpreted as an attempt to gain preferential treatment” and advises me to also check local policy.
Some time ago one of my patients returned from a trip to Africa. To my total surprise she had bought me a small gift. Unlike a box of chocolates, it was not a gift that I could easily share with colleagues by leaving it in our staffroom. I asked our administrator if I could enter the gift in a register that I imagined the trust would keep. I was told instead that I must refuse to accept it.
This seems to me an unnecessarily inflexible interpretation of NMC code. The patient had decided to acknowledge care received and had offered me a small present in a thoughtful act of reciprocation. There is certainly little scope to obtain preferential treatment in a HIV clinic. It seemed uncaring to hand it back.
With this in mind it’s been interesting to observe the experience of friends and family in education at the end of another academic year. One who is a head teacher has received bottles of wine, a pen, a set of coasters, ties, chocolate, coffee and olive oil. Another in a private school has been invited to houses and homes in various parts of the world, “the odd gold nugget from Guyana”, expensive booze, Jermyn Street shirts, etc. My wife, a teaching assistant in a local state primary school witnessed chocolates, photo-frames, mugs and soft toys: the goods that appear, each July on “thank you teacher” displays in shops.
Does any of this present-giving in education curry preferential treatment? My friends and family were astonished by the suggestion. These are simple expressions of gratitude, children and parents giving something at the end of a year of receiving. There is pleasure in both giving and receiving and no harm is done.
Without a whiff of wallet envy it does seem curious that patients and nurses are disallowed from similar transactions.
Martin Jones, Clinical Nurse Specialist HIV, East Sussex Downs & Weald.
Martin Jones has worked in sexual health and HIV since 1986