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Nurses need 'right attitudes', says minister

  • 28 Comments

Care services minister Paul Burstow has called on nurse managers to ensure staff have the “right attitudes” to meet the aspirations of the white paper.

In an exclusive interview with Nursing Times, Mr Burstow said that treating patients with dignity had little to do with staff numbers and was more closely related to the culture on wards.

He said: “It’s not just about creating x number of staff but staff with the right attitudes, empathy and understanding.

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“The government can do so much by providing the overall resources. We can’t shape the culture - that has to be led by clinical leaders, by managers and by practitioners themselves being clear what their ethos is and translating that into practice.

“That will be very important in the new white paper direction of travel.”

He was speaking as the Department of Health celebrated the appointment of 22,200 dignity champions, who work to ensure patients have a good experience of health and social care.

These include staff, counsellors, volunteers, service users, carers and members of the public.

Asked why such an approach was necessary, Mr Burstow, a Liberal Democrat, said a culture of “targets and tick boxes” had disempowered frontline staff.

While dignity standards across the country were “variable”, he said there were examples of good practice, many of which were being instigated by nurses.

  • 28 Comments

Readers' comments (28)

  • I agree that ward culture is influenced by the staff, particularly managers. But for Paul Burstow to say this has nothing to do with staff numbers is wrong, you do need an appropriate number of staff to deliver good care. However, if he meant that 'just numbers' has nothing to do with delivering high quality care, he is right, we need the right number of registered nurses and in some cases, less skill mix, but I suspect that isn't what he means.

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  • Steve Williams

    What an arrogant bar-steward this twonker is.

    Remind me again... what School of Nursing did this Onanist train at? How dare he lecture front-line Nurses about

    Hucking Fell - 22,200 dignity champions (all probably being paid more than the average staff nurse) appointed? Someone is having a laugh eh?

    The new coalition government is still choosing to ignore the gigantic elephant in the corner of the ward that's screaming “More front-line nurses and a decent living wage!” (Yeah I know elephants don't usually talk but this one does!”)

    He wants more “staff with the right attitudes, empathy and understanding” - how is he going to check the progress? Give the nurses more paperwork to tick off? Or more “champions” to 'tick-off' the nurses – in both senses?

    Once again another prime example of clueless ministers leading equally clueless NHS middle managers!

    Perhaps the NHS will employ some more expensive 'expert' consultants to advise them how to spell the word “dignity” for starters!

    See what an absolute 'Richard the Third' the guy is? He says “That will be very important in the new white paper direction of travel.” “Direction of travel?” What the feck does that mean? He rates a Type 8 on the Bristol Stool Scale in my opinion!

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  • Being constantly restructured, regraded, transformed and over worked - expected to do more and more with the resources we have - with little encouragement or support form the NHS management structure demoralises staff and does unfortunately affect staff attituded to working environments and to the patients. Some of the recent issues with mid staffs and other hospitals is about supporting staff and providing the right atmosphere to engenger a culture of care throught a supportive learing environment - staff cuts prevent education and imprtantly clinical supervision from happeninghappening

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  • Steve Williams

    Sorry. I missed a couple of words in the second sentence there. My acidic indignant rant should have read...

    “How dare he lecture front-line Nurses about nursing with dignity!”

    BTW, is it “frontline” or “front-line?” My spellink-chucker throws a wobbly when I use “frontline” but I'm sure that's an acceptable word. Anyone care to advise a terminally bewildered posting practitioner?

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  • In response to Mr Willliams

    First of all a dignity champion is an unpaid position. Any-one from lay people to students to senior consultants can sign up to be one.

    I strongly suggest that before you start blowiing off on a subject that you make sure you have the facts on it first.

    The white paper is aimed at championing excellence in the NHS and yet there are nurses such as yourself that are dismissing the steps being taken without understanding what they are.

    It appears that your 'acidic indignant rant' was shortsighted and illinformed. Perhaps Mr Burstow had a point after all!

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  • Steve Williams

    Sorry. I missed a couple of words in the second sentence there. My acidic indignant rant should have read...

    “How dare he lecture front-line Nurses about nursing with dignity!”

    BTW, is it “frontline” or “front-line?” My spellink-chucker throws a wobbly when I use “frontline” but I'm sure that's an acceptable word. Anyone care to advise a terminally bewildered posting practitioner?

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  • First of all, Mr Burstow, it's a bit of a cheek to be proclaiming the appointment of 'Dignity Champions' when this was a Labour government initiative - maybe you didn'tknow that.... secondly, it's a heck of a lot easier to be empathetic and understanding when you have an adequate workforce and are not run off your feet because cuts have left you on minimum - or worse - levels of staffing.
    Reality check please.

    I must also say, Steve Williams ( and numerous others,including various types of clinican and of course, politicians) that I am pretty fed up with NHS manager bashing. Like nurses, there are fabulous ones,ok ones, mediocre ones, and not very goot at all ones. Oh yes. So maybe you would like to stop tarring us all with the same brush becuase many of us not only work hard and try to do a good job alongside clinical colleagues, we also care every bit as much about patients as you - and we'd like a teensy weensy bit of the respect you would like for yourself.

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  • You cheeky, patronising, arrogant bastard Burstow!

    (And I make no apologies for any language!)

    You want attitude boy? Come and say that to my face after I've done a twelve hour shift with no help or support, too many patients and not enough staff!

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  • Isla, I see your point about managers, but to be fair I also see Steves point (and agree with it) that at the same time staff Nurse numbers are being cut on the wards and we are being asked to deal with more and more patients with increasing acute co morbidities, we are also seeing vast numbers of clipboard wielding managers who from our point of view do nothing useful from behind their desks, and simply create more work that takes us away from our patients (ie audits). But like I said, it is the staff Nurse numbers every shift that are the problem. (Just to reiterate a point, not so long ago I was on a night duty of a 35 bed ward ON MY OWN with only a HCA and an agency HCA to back me up, then when the lone Staff Nurse next door rang in sick, I was expected to cover that ward too! That would have been 1 staff Nurse to 70 acute patients!!!!! You can imagine the articulate and reasoned response I gave to that. Needless to say I refused. And yes I did put in incident forms. The next day the day shifts were only a little better staff wise, yet there were 4 dark blues in for both wards and apparently not one of them came onto the floor. You want respect? Not in those circumstances.)

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  • Like someone said " if you want to die from ignorance, join the CONservative party..." Mr Paul Berstow, has sold his DIGNITY and SELF-RESPECT to the CON party. You cannot expect anything from people like him but only Ignorance and Arrogance

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