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Senior nurses join social media row sparked by TV doctor


Disparaging comments made about nursing on social media by a doctor have sparked widespread criticism from the profession, including from the chief nursing officer and other national leaders.

Dr Una Coales, who describes herself as a “media GP” due to appearances on Sky News, Channel 4 and other TV channels, unleashed a series of Tweets on Sunday that drew over 450 responses.

“Don’t let Jeremy Hunt replace real doctors with glorified nurses”

Una Coales

‏She used the social media site Twitter to make a point that the government should not be seeking to replace junior doctor posts with those in advanced nursing roles.

But her use of divisive language in relation to nurses and doctors drew criticism on the site from all levels of the nursing profession and also her medical colleagues.

In the first tweet, she said: “An NHS nurse with MSc is not the same as a junior doctor with a medical degree and MRCP.

“Don’t let Jeremy Hunt replace real doctors with glorified nurses doing the job of ST3 junior doctors,” she said.

Dr Coales then followed this up by stating that “NHS nurses should stick to nursing and not take over junior doctor jobs.

“A nurse can never be a doctor unless he or she gets a medical degree. Don’t let Jeremy Hunt dumb down the NHS. Public want doctors in doctor jobs,” she said.

“Hang your head in shame for trying to make a political point by kicking another profession”

David Melia

Professor Mark Radford, NHS Improvement’s director of nursing for improvement, described her comments as “appalling and disrespectful” regarding advanced clinical practitioners and others “delivering care alongside doctors up and down the county”.

He also noted that many such individuals would have “helped and supported” Dr Coales in her “training and practice”.

Professor Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said she agreed with Professor Radford and that the doctor’s comments were “misguided”.

“As professionals, we work in teams and provide skilled care for those that need the expertise of nurses, doctors and allied health professionals,” she said.

In addition, several directors of nursing also joined in with criticising the views aired by Dr Coales.

“Doctors and nurses do completely different jobs, which complement each other perfectly”

Susan Marshall

David Melia, executive director of nursing and deputy chief executive at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust: “I’m not a glorified nurse – I’m a FABULOUS nurse! Hang your head in shame for trying to make a political point by kicking another profession.

“You may want to work on your communication skills, ask a nurse in the morning, they’ll give you a few tips,” he said.

Susan Marshall, chief nurse at Sussex Community NHS Trust, described Dr Coales’ tweets as an “out dated and disappointing view”.

She said: “I think you will find that doctors and nurses do completely different jobs, which complement each other perfectly when they work together as part of a much wider multi-disciplinary team with AHPs and a whole host of other skilled individuals.”

Steve Hams, director of quality and chief nurse at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Thankfully, I work alongside GLORIOUS nurses who are highly skilled, highly talented and highly able to work alongside other professional groups to ensure our patients are well cared for – it’s what we call ‘team around the patient’.”


Readers' comments (3)

  • The addage "well I wouldn't start from here" comes to mind.

    If we were to design a service, from 'scratch' to help people experiencing marked ill health to get well enough; or live the best way they can despite the limitations of chronic disease or
    terminal illness, would we invent Registered: Medical Practitioners, Nurses, Physios; OTs; etc? Probably not?
    How much activity, time and resource is given over to creating & maintaining demarcation between professions & protectionism? And could this investment be put to better use? Well, of course nobody knows; though many can, I'm sure cite anecdotes to support one position or another.

    Good quality evidence about what works best, and in which situation, is based around what is done This is much clearer than evidence about who is best, for what.

    Skills sets though are essential; and as complexity increases, so should, critical analytical thinking and decision making.

    This implies employing people with appropriate and appliable knowledge through skill and ability, a continuing opportunity to learn, think innovatively, work in a team, remain resilient, and accept responsibility; within managed frameworks of accountablity.

    When treatment and care is needed, thetefore, what matters is that there are the right people in the right places at the right time.

    To achieve this, most effectively; and get the best out of those available to undertake the necessarry work; means, in my view adopting a more fluid approach
    to training and practice, particularly in nursing and medicine.

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  • I have just spent the day, doing what I have done for the last 23 years as a Surgical Care Practitioner! Supporting consultant surgeons operating on there own, in the absence of junior doctors, on call, on leave, study leave or sickness. Or they have bailed out and left the country! Or I have assisted with FY1 to ST3 surgical education, by assisting as they learn how to become orthopaedic surgeons able to make transition to ST3 to consultants. Give us a break please.

    President | Association for Perioperative Practice

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  • Some nurses would be better prescribers than some drs. Nurses spend most of the time with patients so are able to identify sick patients better as well.

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