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RCN defends nurses against Patients Association report on poor NHS care

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The Royal College of Nursing has raised concern that nurses’ morale and public confidence in the NHS could be undermined by the examples of poor care highlighted today by the Patients Association.

Poor care is “completely unacceptable” but the examples in the Patients Association report must not be allowed to overshadow the vast majority of good quality healthcare given to millions of patients every day, the college said.

Responding to the report, which contains 16 first hand accounts of care, RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: “The level of care described by these families is completely unacceptable, and we will not condone nurses who behave in ways that are contrary to the principles and ethics of the profession. However we believe that the vast majority of nurses are decent, highly skilled individuals.

“This is reflected in the fact that the last survey of patients by the Care Quality Commission found that over 90 per cent rated the care they received as good, very good or excellent.”

Mr Carter said the Patients Association report was based on the two per cent of patients who feel their care was unacceptable.

“Two per cent is too many but we are concerned that this might undermine the public’s confidence in the world class care they can expect to receive from the NHS. Furthermore it could also dampen the morale of the millions of staff who work tirelessly to help their patients.”

Also responding to the report, the Nursing & Midwifery Council said poor care is “never acceptable”.

In a statement, the NMC said: “We recognise that most nurses and midwives are caring people and want to deliver high standards of care. Since its launch in March 2009 we’ve have requests for over 200,000 copies of our guidance for the care of older people and the public leaflet Care and respect everytime

By working in partnership with employers and members of the public we’ll be able hold to account those whose practice puts people at risk.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Rather than waffling about how the majority are fine let us grasp the nettle and sort out the care which is sub-standard. I believe we need a great deal more practice in our training courses and more senior nurse role models. This means paying people to stay at the sharp end rather than reserving decent pay for those who climb into positions with carpeted offices and computers....

    The Rcn would [I hope] kick up hell if only one member was racially or sexually harassed, rather than pointing out that the majority are not.

    Mr Carter is a sad let down for nursing.

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  • Philip Darbyshire

    The Patients' Association Report may well be the most important report for Nursing in a generation - IF we choose to engage with it and tackle the fundamental and elemental issues that it raises, for nobody really believes that this is about 'only' 16 people. This is about the heart and soul of nursing.

    This RCN and NMC responses are masterpiece examples of 'circling the wagons'. The problem with circling the wagons of course is that all you ever do is go around in circles.

    But all may yet be well. The NMC has a new leaflet... ....

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