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Beyond the Bedpan

Lying down on the job, and how a nurse was slain by dragons


In a new regular column reporting from the more obscure frontiers of the nursing world, Beyond the Bedpan looks at how a group of A&E nurses took an internet craze too far, and how a bright idea was buried in the Dragon’s Den

We all know the feeling. You’re approaching the end of the 12-hour shift from hell, you can barely keep your eyes open, and all you want to do is lie down. But most nurses are made of pretty stern stuff, and wouldn’t dream of actually lying down on the job.

And if you did, a sneaky nap in a spare bed would probably suffice. What you wouldn’t do is join forces with your colleagues and take turns lying down on resuscitation trolleys, ward floors and the hospital heli-pad. And you definitely wouldn’t take photos. And you most certainly wouldn’t take photos and put them on Facebook for all the world to see.

Shockingly, this is exactly what staff at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital did. Why? As part of the latest madcap internet craze of course. It could only be the Lying Down Game. Unfortunately, a colleague failed to see the funny side and promptly reported them to management - many have now been suspended. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Tube troubles

Source: BBC

Nurse entrepreneurs are a much-feted group. These are the bright individuals leading a series of innovative projects that improve services for patients while advancing the nursing profession. All you need is a good idea, the will to make it happen, and a gap in services that needs addressing. But where to start?

The answer, obviously, is those annoying scraps of wasted toothpaste that get thrown out with an empty tube. Because a toothpaste tube is never really empty unless, of course, you use ‘Squeeze With Ease’ - the ingenious invention of nurse and entrepreneur Susan Bell, as presented on last week’s Dragon’s Den.

The device, which works its way down the length of any tube and pushes out every last drop, in a must for value-conscious consumers everywhere, and should tickle the green aspirations of manufacturers by reducing the amount of discarded tubes.

We loved it, credit-crunched families everywhere surely can’t live without it. But the Dragons merely scoffed, and point-blank refused to back it. It was painful viewing. But Susan Bell, like Susan Boyle before her, will ride again. You heard it here first.


Readers' comments (24)

  • Lying down on the job
    "Unfortunately, a colleague failed to see the funny side and promptly reported them to management"

    How proud of her/himself the colleague must be. Well done, you might even get a promotion out of it. Disgusting.
    One is reminded of Nazi Germany where reporting on others for the smallest infraction of the rules was all part of being a "good German".
    I despair, I really do.

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  • Margery Mary Hawkins

    Re .. Dragons' Den .. Manufacturers must make millions out of toothpaste left behind in tubes, just as Coleman made a fortune from mustard left on the plate. Not surprised the Dragons didn't see much in it. However, more power to your elbows girls!!!
    Retired nurse, number handed in

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  • Like anonymous above I despair also.

    What is it about nurses that makes them so hard. I have never known a 'profession' act so nastily as nurses do.

    They always appear to be trying to get the upper hand over others. I know we are treated harshly by our employers, the least we can do is make life more comfortable for each other.

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  • I couldn't agree more with "anonymous" above.
    Why is it nursing seems to attract such bitter and spiteful individuals. Nursing is an amazing profession but so commonly let down by these heartless and humourless types. In any other field the managers would tell them to get a life or consider another career but nursing's great failure is that these people are the type who have taken all the managerial positions and caused a metastatic cancer to the whole profession.
    I'm sorry but if you disapprove of someone's actions, then you tell them to their face. The weazel approach is plain disgusting.
    As for the ideas of misconduct or bringing the profession into disrepute, maybe the world in general, especially patients, like to see that their nurses have a sense of humour rather than behaving like Stasi spies.
    I only hope that one day these people will make a mistake so that justice can occur and they too will enjoy the sharp edge of the disciplinary sword.

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  • As a former member of staff in this department,The full story has not been released, Initially over 40 people were suspended, some of these being Drs however the ED consultant refused to accept this and the Drs are now back at work the nurses however have no real support and these are the ones who are being made an example of - Shocking really as it is a good if busy unit and yes they were a bit silly and it may have gone a bit far but this is an over exageration of management in my opinion.

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  • I remember the days, early 80's when there was some fun to be had on the wards. Student nurses got thrown in the bath on their last day or made to parade around the ward with a bedpan on their head if they were getting married! The patients loved it and really enjoyed their stay in hospital back then. I remember a couple of male patients on a strict surgical ward who were both pranksters and would make the most of it when the Sister was off duty. One nurse took a bladder syringe to him and told him it was time for his injection. Everyone just fell about laughing.They say laughter is the best medicine. Sadly no one laughs any more and everyone walks around with serious faces. Honestly just look at everyone the next time you are walking out of the main corridor in your hospital and you will see what I mean!

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  • Martin Gray

    Pray explain what is so shocking about this bit of fun? In none of the photos I've seen has any member of staff been wearing uniform, although I would assume that if 40 people were suspended I have not seen all of them. And why is it the doctors are deemed to be above the same punishment - if the department is SO busy then the nursing staff are equally important in ensuring it runs efficiently and effectively. Doctors cannot work without the support of their nursing colleagues, and they would be the first to admit it.

    The malicious 'snitch' must have applied for a new position by now, if not already moved to another department; where their reputation will undoubtably follow them and they will be ostracised for being so anal about nursing professional conduct and their interpretation of what is 'acceptable'. Was anyone hurt or was any patient care compromised? I very much doubt it and would hope that patients would be able to appreciate staff letting off a bit of steam, albeit in a rather ludicrous way.

    As I said on my previous post on the initial article - what a sad world we now live in!!

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  • I heartily agree with the above comments, particularly with those indicating that this 'snitch' will probably have taken an elevated position elsewhere and think what a great job he/she has done. And isn't it just typical that the Drs are backed up and reinstated while the nurses have no backing and are made scapegoats to take the rap.

    I trained in the 80s and we did have fun on the wards, and I remember the 'cold bath' on some wards when leaving to go on another placement as a student. There was no malice involved and as previous writers state the patients loved the atmosphere and joined in.

    But the nursing profession seems to have 'bred' some vindictive individuals over the years who take delight in 'scoring points' to assist their own race up the promotional ladder.

    I had first hand experience of this in the mid 90s when a particularly nasty (anonymous of course) letter was sent to the manager of the unit I worked on, 'snitching' on certain members of the staff, all named, accusing them of not pulling their weight and of various other infractions, none of which was justified or true. The outcome of this was that all the staff who had previously enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of a very busy critical care unit, became suspicious of everyone, and reluctant to do anything which might invoke the 'malice' of the snoop, and the unit was a poorer place because of it.

    Two of the particular staff named had a very good (and very long) reputation within the entire hospital, justifyably, but they both altered significantly after this event and were never the same again. One eventually left the unit he had worked on for over thirty years, and the other one unfortunately died.

    Whoever wrote this letter was wicked, and although we never actually discovered the author, I have always hoped they got their just deserts and something equally appalling happened to them. But it was not the last time I have seen this sort of thing happen. A shame that some members of such a caring profession do not feel inclined to look after their own.

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  • Must agree with the above comments re the 'lying down game' - silly but an offence worthy of suspension I think not. It seems, perhaps as a reaction to changes in society that a new puritanism is taking hold with a lot of people getting very po faced about trivial matters. To the person who complained I say 'Get a life'

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  • To be fair I think the dragons are correct its a gimmick with little real use but would only increase the cost of a tube of toothpaste!!

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