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Minister criticised over staff ‘attitudes’ comment


Nurses have heavily criticised a minister for appearing to downplay the effect of staffing levels on care quality.

Care services minister Paul Burstow last week told Nursing Times that treating patients with dignity was “not just about creating x number of staff but staff with the right attitudes, empathy and understanding”.

He said nurses’ attitudes would be crucial in implementing the proposals in the white paper.

But Royal College of Nursing head of policy Howard Catton responded that scandals such as those at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust had demonstrated the problems arising from low staffing levels.

He said: “We’ve seen some really catastrophic failings where nurse staffing has been identified as being a significant issue and a major contributory factor. We know there’s very credible evidence linking nursing staffing levels to patient outcomes.”

He added: “If you’re consistently striving to deliver high quality care but you’re [short staffed], and you’re going home on a regular basis not feeling you’ve been able to give the best you can, that over time is a negative factor in motivation and hearts and minds.”

Mr Burstow’s remarks also provoked a fierce debate on

One anonymous contributor said: “Being constantly restructured, regraded, transformed and overworked - expected to do more and more with the resources we have… does unfortunately affect staff attitudes to working environments and to the patients.”


Readers' comments (30)

  • And deservedly so! He is an arrogant fool who has no comprehension of the topic he is going on about.

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  • Why of why are we continualy forced to be governed by those who have no understanding nor want to understand the people to whome these decisions impact upon?

    Perhaps Care Services Minister Paul Burstow should experience a period of shadowing with front line staff? Let him see the issues we face on a daily basis, the pressure we are placed under, the amount of hours we work over, unpaid to ensure our clients receive the best service, and to see how WE hold the NHS together, not him, not David Cameron....US!

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  • The Millionaires' club seems keen to lecture the "plebs" on their attitude. Perhaps his pompous dictats should be directed at the greedy Bankers?

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  • bob cat

    No, no, no! Come on now everyone, we're all in it together!........ except that some people are more 'in it' that others!!

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  • tinkerbell

    Refreshingly I have just heard back from my local MP that he is trying to organise a meeting with Paul Burstow for us. Anyone want to tag along.

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  • Mr Burstow needs a week at the coal face, so to speak. How dare he make such comments, the reason we struggle so much is because of people like him cutting budgets across the healthcare board ,meaning that we have to do more with less and expect the same outcomes. A question Mr Burstow, if your pay is cut and the means at your disposal to do your job, implemented by someone who is clueless, would you not be disheartened and dispirited? Yet as nurses, we struggle on, trying to do the best that we can with the means available to us. Our pay is poor, our working hours ridiculous and often unpaid, we do not enjoy the luxury of an expenses paid world like yourself.

    We do what we do because we believe in it, no matter how difficult, but, one day, believe me, we will say,.. enough is enough.. what will your government do then? Who will they bring in to replace us? You?? I think not. You can only kick a dog so many times before it turns on you, so take heed, we are a massive and very highly skilled and important workforce and there is a finite limit to how much we can take!

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  • Daisy, I'll be up for that! Let me know where and when, is 5 minutes alone with him too much to ask?

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  • Steve Williams

    He still rates a Type 8 of the first order in my book...

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  • All that he has said is that dignified care is NOT JUST about numbers but also about attitudes - what's so wrong with that?

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  • tinkerbell

    great mike. let you know as soon as i get anything definite.

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