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First hospital nurse school deferred

  • 9 Comments

Heart of England Foundation Trust has postponed plans to build England’s only hospital based school of nursing. The decision comes at the same time as concerns have arisen over a culture of “learned helplessness” among its nurses.

The trust, which told Nursing Times the two issues were unconnected, had been hoping to provide pre-registration training as well as a “finishing school” for newly qualified nurses.

But board papers say this has been “stepped back somewhat because of the need to concentrate on more pressing issues”.

Chief nurse Mandie Sunderland told Nursing Times the plans had been “put on the back burner” while the trust considered the massive changes to the NHS set out in last month’s white paper.

She said: “Everyone’s really busy with all the changes.

“There has been a lot going on at a strategic level in the last couple of months, which has meant it [the nursing school] isn’t really a priority.”

Minutes of the trust’s June board meeting show it had a lengthy discussion about nursing standards at the trust, particularly at Good Hope Hospital.

Referring to work on reducing serious untoward incidents, the minutes say the “big issues” are “predominantly around nursing”.

They state: “Ms Sunderland explained that it was about attitude and behaviour, standards of professionalism and projecting a professional image.”

As of the June meeting seven ward sisters had been suspended over care issues and other nurses were subject to disciplinary action.

The minutes say Ms Sunderland was “seeing individual matrons to discuss their needs” and thought it might be necessary to “question the role of the matron”, the papers say.

She is also quoted as “reiterating the need for culture change and need to move away from a learned helplessness, which had developed at Good Hope.”

Ms Sunderland told Nursing Times the problems were “nothing suspicious” or concerned confidential incidents, and that they were unrelated to either the nursing school decision or a review of nursing at the trust.

This review was being carried out in light of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust scandal, in common with other trusts across the country, she said.

The problems were also unrelated to a review last year, mentioned in the paper, that criticised neonatal and paediatric services, she said.

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • Taking nurse education out of university and putting it back in hospitals is flawed thinking. Year after year we hear how x or y hospital is failing to deliver safe patient care. To educate our nurses of the future in such places will just perpetuate failure. Keep education based in university were the student nurses gain experience and learning from a variety of clinical settings. This will help them think critically about practice and hopefully carry forward best practice.

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  • I am sorry but you really need to think before you speak. Your phrase 'Keep education based in university were (where!) the student nurses gain experience and learning from a variety of clinical settings.'
    Gives a mixed message as you state yourself they get a variety of 'clinical settings'. these are surley based in a hospital.
    Why on earth you feel that health lecturers who have been out of practice for years know more about the delivery of safe patient care is beyond me.
    Universities and hospitals need to work together to ensure the students have the theoretical knowlege and clinical knowledege to deliver safe patient care.

    Ms Sunderland states "it is about attitude and behaviour, standards of professionalism and projecting a professional image.”
    Now that is something the Universitites are not good at as they see the course as any other university course and accept very different standards of behaviour and attitude. This is the area that really needs more partnership working to get it right.

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  • Steve Williams

    A serious question. Can someone explain to me what the phrase “a culture of “learned helplessness” actually means? Is is double-speak for the fact that nurses feel understaffed, underpaid and unsupported?

    If that's the case then surely the “big issues” are NOT “predominantly around nursing” but around the proliferation of management at the “strategic level” who are currently in panic mode trying to protect their own jobs by finger-pointing.

    Get rid of a few “middle-management-paper-shufflers” (and I am not referring to matrons) and see how many nurses you can employ for the money that is saved.

    I'm not getting into that old chestnut about university versus hospital training – that seems to me to be a distraction that is used, all too often by nurses, to 'self-derail' the topic in hand. In this case the hospital nurse school issue seems to be a straight forward case of financial prudence.

    The thing I find more insidious is management's instant ability to blame their most valuable and yet most vulnerable assets – nurses. Yes nurses (uni or hosp – I don't care which or in which field) have a unique set of skills and yet are virtually powerless to demand financial recognition of those talents because they are so reluctant to strike or even work to rule. This makes them vulnerable and easily prone to that massive elephant in the corner of the room – institutionalised bullying.

    NHS upper and middle management are past masters at intimidation. Even the unions, the RCN and (dare I say it) the NMC practice a king of inverse and unspoken aggression. Witness the double-bind situation concerning “whistle-blowing” reported in the NT recently. Read the replies from nurses who have been victimised as a consequence.

    The NMC says nurses must adhere strictly to our code of professional conduct – which of course is totally correct. Management stigmatises or constructively-dismiss those nurses who do just that by speaking up (and they twist it around and say that it was somehow “the nurses” fault.) The unions and the RCN are pretty much in the pockets of the employers and powerless (or unwilling) to do anything. To add insult to injury the NMC who insisted on the COPC in the first place (and I am not for one moment suggesting it is a bad thing) turn around and say they have no statutory powers to enforce reinstatement for something they insisted you do (under threat of otherwise being struck-off) in the first place!

    So yes, this story is really two stories jumbled up. The hospital nurse school issue (and I am not dealing with that one) and the other is the culture of endemic institutionalised bullying (and the essential good natures of nurses) which leads to this 'divide and conquer' mentality that management uses to browbeat nurses into submission. Alas it is also the reason why nurses will never strike, work to rule or get a fair recompense for their hard work management (and successive governments) know nurses are a soft target. :(

    God I've even managed to depress myself now - someone pass the Prozac please!

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  • Totally agree with Steve Williams. I dont know if you work at this hospital but I do. I totally agree with your first few paragraphs. There is not a culture of "learnt helplessness". It is forced low morale and unvalued feelings and due to the the lack of support from our Chief nurse.
    I used to feel very pround of working for Good Hope NHS Trust, but that doesn't exist anymore.
    But Im still proud of being a nurse and providing a high standard of care, despite all the issues.
    I know a lot of good nurses who work at the hospital have been quite upset by the article, especially Ms Sunderlands comments.

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  • Ms sunderland doesnt respect our values as nurses. what I would like to know is how did she came to make these comment. she does have a clue of what goes on at ward level such as the pressure we work under, lack off resourses to carry out our duties due to lack of staffing this is what she needs to look into as a professional she is the one that needs attitude change and professionalism not us as band 5 nurses. she should try working on the wards before she made unrealistic comments via the media

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  • I work at the trust mentioned here....
    I am appauled, my other band 5's and I are so run down with paperwork and and are fed up of being on our own to look after 17 or 18 dependant patients. I have to question what's helpless about needing to have help to document, deliver basic care, wash, dress, feed, IV's, Meds discharges all on three people, mainly band 2,3,4 who are the back bone to the NHS but who are run down by the nurses not being able to help... constantly as they are doing care plans or discharging or documenting or being demanded by consultants to go on ward rounds or to do this job or the other.... I question people who do not work at ward level making comments about how hard us wardbased nurses do work!

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  • Having left the trust in May, on a weekly base there were 1500 nursing and midwifery based jobs out - across bands 2 to 7, cant fill them all as bank posts, cant afford agency - go figure

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  • Yes this is a ridiculous and old fashioned idea. I'm really thinking that we should have term limits on senior nurses. Say anyone who thinks traditional nursing is better should be banned from having these jobs as clearly they do not have the professions best interests at heart.

    Also these Senior Nurses who constantly try to save face by insisting 'we can cope' etc should just leave.

    i'm asking now. if you are one of these people, please leave right now!
    Intentionally or not, by constantly enforcing this 'coping' you are perpetuating the image that we ought to 'cope' rather than capably do our job with the right resources.

    The issue here is that nurses have to teach themselves to swim in the quagmire of patient care with little support from nursing education and managers. Just be realistic as to what is required to do the job properly.

    However patients decline because junior doctors are ill prepared for the burden of sick patients as well as Consultants that sit on problems for days with their 'wait and see' attitude which has never really worked either.

    They'll tell patients their going to get scans and tests at 0800, but you find outthey haven't booked them until 1600! and they don't learn from their mistakes either. I can't afford to make mistakes, but apparently their free to make them constantly.

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  • Yes this is a ridiculous and old fashioned idea. I'm really thinking that we should have term limits on senior nurses. Say anyone who thinks traditional nursing is better should be banned from having these jobs as clearly they do not have the professions best interests at heart.

    Also these Senior Nurses who constantly try to save face by insisting 'we can cope' etc should just leave.

    i'm asking now. if you are one of these people, please leave right now!
    Intentionally or not, by constantly enforcing this 'coping' you are perpetuating the image that we ought to 'cope' rather than capably do our job with the right resources.

    The issue here is that nurses have to teach themselves to swim in the quagmire of patient care with little support from nursing education and managers. Just be realistic as to what is required to do the job properly.

    However patients decline because junior doctors are ill prepared for the burden of sick patients as well as Consultants that sit on problems for days with their 'wait and see' attitude which has never really worked either.

    They'll tell patients their going to get scans and tests at 0800, but you find outthey haven't booked them until 1600! and they don't learn from their mistakes either. I can't afford to make mistakes, but apparently their free to make them constantly.

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