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RCN and NMC leaders criticise newspaper column for being ‘misguided and disrespectful’


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.

janet davies

janet davies

Janet Davies

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

Nt editorial jackie smith

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.”

Royal College of Nursing/Nursing and Midwifery Council

RCN and NMC leaders attack ‘disrespectful’ newspaper column

The letter to the Sunday Times from the RCN and NMC



Readers' comments (4)

  • Sadly it is the nurses lot to have newspapers print whatever they want to and not be able to do a dam thing about it! Over the years I have seen my local paper print absolute lies concerning cases I have had first hand knowledge of, because they have been contacted by a parent or relative. The newspaper knows that the hospital and nursing staff cannot retaliate and tell what really happened because of patient - nurse/doctor privilege, so there is no justice. Just one more of the joys of being in the nursing or medical profession!

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  • I enjoyed reading his article - it gave me lots to laugh at. Bless him - I've no idea what he was paid but it is worth double what he was paid. At least to his paymaster.

    Think about it. Not only has he got nurses in a bit of a tizzy, he has uniquely got the RCN and NMC saying something coherently and in unison for the first time. Ever. He deserves a medal (as my Granny used to say).

    As anyone stopped to ask why?

    Think about it.

    BBC scores own goal with gender pay differences. We will park over there the fact that the Beeb is addressing it.

    What's the real story?

    Billionaire who sucks billions from UK economy allegedly pays little or no UK tax, simultaneously offends nurses and Beeb staff in blizzard of lies.

    Sits back and enjoys rage from nurses. And from those on behalf of nurses (most trusted profession - just remind me where journo's are in the trusted league tables).

    Job done. Nothing to see here. "Shit shovelers paid too much" - is this really this guy's educated journalism?

    Or is he really a lapdog of Murdoch, and nothing else?

    Sit. Roll over. Good boy.

    Remind me, Mr Liddle, how much are YOU paid for this so called 'journalism'?

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  • He's entitled to his opinion just like you are, and he's entitled to air it just like you are. Build a bridge and get over it.

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  • Multiple choice question
    You are unconcious bleeding to death on the roadside
    Who would you prefer to pass by?
    A) journalist
    B )nurse
    C) massively paid drivelling mediocrity called a TV presenter(I suppose they could try to staunch the wound with £20 notes)
    Answers please on a post card

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