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Young people 'put off' nursing by TV dramas


Young people may be discouraged from carers in nursing by watching TV hospital dramas full of staff acting unprofessionally, the head of a widely criticised hospital has said.

Antony Sumara is the new chief executive of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Hospital Trust, where a report found “appalling” standards of care earlier this year.

Mr Sumara said shows such as Casualty were entertaining but off-putting for potential nurses, as they show staff breaching patient confidentially by discussing cases within earshot of the patient or downloading confidential files.

On the BBC website’s Scrubbing Up column, he wrote: “What impression of a career in the NHS is set in the minds of young people aspiring to be the future generation of nurses, doctors or chief executives when they watch programmes filled with unprofessionalism and poor conduct?”

Mr Sumara called on programme-makers to create “a true picture of hospital life”.

He said: “Nurses and doctors have a difficult enough job at the best of times without having to live up to inappropriate role models but perhaps a group of individuals working hard together to save lives and improve the health of its patients in a caring and conscientious manner is just not good TV?”


Readers' comments (16)

  • Its regrettable that those "standards" were being observed by a few nurses. We all know only the sensational makes the news, all the good they saw was never shown.

    It may be good that future nurses see another side of nursing other than the one shown on the day time soap opers, where "nurses" sit an wait to be asked out by Dr Lookingood.

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  • I've found the American TV programmes to be more off putting. In 'House' I've never seen a Dr talk to a nurse in a polite way or even in a way that acknowledges the importance of his/her role.

    I don't think that the writers of these TV dramas realise how important and fragile the perception of the NHS is. The hospital environment is alien to some people and all of their perceptions are built on TV programmes.

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  • don't be so ridiculous! If potential students are so immature that they are 'put off' by silly dramas then perhaps we don't need them in the profession anyway. Do they also think that all TV cops/soaps/dramas/sitcoms (even 'reality tv') actually reflect real life? ITS TELEVISION!!!!!!!!!

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  • ha ha! i agreen with the above. if there minds are changed that easily then they clearly dont care or want to actually be in the profession.

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  • Casualty , Holby City , Scrubs , these are entertaining programs for the general public. Obviously they are NOT REAL. As mentioned above ... Its TELEVISION !!!!!!!! Why would a potential student think that this is what really happens in the NHS. It is ridiculous to think so. However, I think that the people who write the dramas should spend time in the NHS and observe for themselves what really goes on in an A/E or on the Ward settings.

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  • More likely to be put off by nursing by it being changed to degree only

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  • More likely to be put off by nursing being changed to degree only

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  • There needs to be a nursing equivalent to COPS.
    I am in agreement with the previous contributors, if your research into a career consists of watching tv drama, we should be glad that they don't want to be nurses.
    I would understand the point if Undercover Nurse was used as an example.

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  • I confess I am a closet watcher of some of these programs and on the whole take them for what they are - sort of entertainment! However there is an element in the population that take some of the content as 'real' which is worrying. I often get frustrated when I see things that are blatantly wrong and have to fight the urge to write to the TV company and ask who the hell advises them! Anyway, I can see how these programs create a perspective that could be detrimental if someone is only at a early stage in considering a career direction.

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  • Gemma Watford

    I watch casualty every week, and see that its only entertainment value and nothing else. What are these students geting into their heads, and anyway if they cannot see the difference between drama and real life then what are they doing wanting to train as a nurse? I have worked as a healthcare assistant and can say for myself that this is what the real nursing is, not the trianed staff. They are there for the 'high tech' and not the traditional bedside nursing, and with this in mind I consider myself a florence nightingale as i care very much about the real life issues that patients face and for the exisitence of humanity, and want to get back to it as soon as possible, as I am not at work at present.

    Gemma Watford - pershore Worcestershire

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