The leaders of a major nursing union and the profession’s regulator have joined forces to attack a controversial newspaper column that they described as “misguided and disrespectful”.
The Royal College of Nursing and the Nursing and Midwifery Council have written to the Sunday Times to “register their concerns” about a column that appeared in the paper earlier this month.
“We must take exception when damaging claims are made against nursing”
Jackie Smith and Janet Davies
RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies and NMC chief executive and register Jackie Smith said the work of nurses “must not be belittled” and that “damaging claims” had been made against the profession.
In their joint letter, published by the Sunday Times yesterday, they said they were “registering their concern” about an opinion article that appeared in the newspaper on 23 July.
In the controversial piece, media commentator Rod Liddle discussed public sector pay, comparing the value of nurses with high profile presenters at the BBC.
He asked whether “anyone should ever be paid more than nurses”, claiming they would “empty your bedpan and mess around with your drip for a while, until someone more senior comes along”.
He continued by stating that nurses could get paid more than £40,000 for being “quite useful in hospitals”.
The piece – titled Nurse, I’ve come over all peculiar… I don’t think you’re worth more than Gary Lineker – provoked widespread criticism from nurses on social media.
Former Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter described it on Twitter as a “truly shocking article”.
In their letter, Ms Davies and Ms Smith said: “We expect columnists to air strong opinions and respect their freedom. However, we must take exception when damaging claims are made against nursing.
They said the author of the article – who has a track record of airing controversial views – seemed “unaware, or unwilling to reflect, that nursing is a graduate profession”.
Nt editorial jackie smith
“To suggest that, after three years of training, nurses are limited in the way he describes – ‘they will empty your bedpan and mess around with your drip’ – is misguided and disrespectful,” they said.
Ms Smith and Ms Davies highlighted that nurses could prescribe, perform minor surgery and were responsible for delivering 80% of patient care.
In addition, they said the salary of £40,000 mentioned in the column was an “unrecognisable figure”, stating that nurses could expect to earn about £29,000 a year after working for 10 years.
They added: “Nursing staff will remain at the fore of healthcare as it rises to the challenge of an ageing population with increasingly complex care needs. Their work must not be belittled.”
RCN and NMC leaders attack ‘disrespectful’ newspaper column