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Attention to infection control very welcome
The renaming of the Infection Control Nurses Association to the Infection Prevention Society and widening of its membership to all health professionals working in infection control is most welcome news for those of us who have worked in the field.

In 1970, when matrons were being phased out, I was appointed by the chief nursing officer to an infection control and prevention role in a hospital in a big group. I looked all the hospitals and private nursing homes in the area.
I was one of the first 13 such nurses appointed that year. We met monthly for support, to exchange experiences and to learn from a senior nurse and a microbiologist.

Like most of my colleagues at that time, I was met with a lot opposition and even hostility. It took patience and perseverance to convince staff that I was there for them and the patients.

Well over 25 years ago, I persuaded one of the consultants to allow me to culture his tie. Presenting him with the Petri dish convinced him that a bow
tie would be a better idea, and of the need to use barrier gowns or plastic aprons instead of white coats.

I am very glad Gordon Brown is keen for there to be a ‘deep clean’ of hospitals. Will he provide funds for more infection control nurse specialists?
Sydney White
Former clinical nurse specialist in infection control

Good management will help prevent disasters
Your article on the Clostridium difficile outbreak at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust said ‘nurses must take responsibility and ensure their concerns are heard by external regulators if managers will not listen’ (NT Comment, 16 October, p1).

Therein lies the problem. Where there is good leadership and management, staff are listened to and situations are dealt with before harm is done.

Where management is dysfunctional, this can mean staff are not listened to and anyone who dares to speak up could risk suspension. Other staff will then move to a ‘safe’ trust or keep their heads down.

The chief nursing officer said her visits to trusts convinced her that what happened at Maidstone was not typical.
She seems to believe that hospitals will let her see them ‘warts and all’. Knowledge of human nature should make her aware that the trusts will present their best face and never let her witness their failings.

Julie Fagan
Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspensions and Exclusions in the NHS (UK)

Why fat could mean not fit to practise
Do we really need a government-sponsored report to tell us that we are becoming an ever-increasing, engorged nation of fatties (NT Clinical, 23 October, p23)?

If the population is growing older, what hope is there when care is being offered by larger nurses with impaired mobility and physical dexterity? We are facing an enormous crisis in our profession and the NHS.

I have witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of nurses who, due to their weight, are unable to carry out their role and responsibilities effectively or appropriately, resulting in tasks not being undertaken at all, done with limited energy, ability or enthusiasm or, perhaps more worryingly, done by over-compensating colleagues.

I wonder what the results of a time and motion study would produce prior to the next review of clinical grading?

If overweight patients can be refused treatment due to their size, what better incentive could there possibly be to have nurses who are actually fit for practice?

Andrew Bagnall

Nurses should not terminate pregnancies I am disappointed that NT has been enthusiastic about nurses taking part in terminations (NT Comment, 23 October, p1).

This is the deliberate destruction of human life – nurses should protect human life, not destroy it.

Name and address supplied

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