Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


'Nurses can be neglectful without meaning to be'


It was a busy week of early morning seminars and late night celebrations last week.

On Tuesday The Florence Nightingale School of Midwifery and Nursing invited Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to speak about Protecting the public through proactive regulation: new dawn for the NMC.

“He’s got his work cut out for him here,” said one nurse I sat next to when she read the title on his PowerPoint slide.

And Dickon certainly knows that. He gave a comprehensive introduction to the NMC, detailing how hard it was to protect the public. Not least because the public don’t help themselves, sending some rather spurious claims about nurses’ fitness to practice to swell the NMC’s postbag, which turns up bulging every day at its headquarters.

He said that while drugs and alcohol issues are playing a part in many complaints – typically 15 cases a week – the NMC is taking a tough line on this widespread issue, and mirroring the stance of the General Medical Council, to investigate anyone with a drug or alcohol conviction.

But he said that what typically goes wrong is registrants not treating patients as individuals or making them a priority.

He picked up on this theme not 24 hours later at the launch of the NMC’s films highlighting the importance of safeguarding adults. The films showed three cases – an elderly man in a nursing home, a pregnant domestic abuse case and a young girl admitted to hospital with a deteriorating mental state. For more details on these, see It makes for chilling viewing, and shows that nurses can be neglectful and have a huge negative impact on their patients’ lives, wellbeing and recovery – often without meaning to and without being bad or malicious people. Food for thought.

But I finish with nurses of excellence. I was lucky enough to be one of the 130 guests invited to community nursing charity The Queen’s Nursing Institute’s autumn award ceremony at the Lansdowne Club in London on Tuesday.

27 new Queen’s Nurses received the title, swelling the ranks of this special club to 130, and 23 Fund for Innovation project leaders also received their awards. The nurses represented a wide range of specialisms in primary care all over the country.

Certificates and Queen’s Nurse badges were presented by guest of honour Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes – who clearly saw as little of his home as I did mine last week.

“You have stepped over the line from being a nurse to being a Queen’s nurse. What an accolade,” he told the assembled group of nurses. “I don’t think any of us became a nurse to be a hero,” he said. “But today is a moment to pause and remember why you became a nurse in the first place … to offer compassion and high-quality care.”

Rosemary Cook, director of QNI, also congratulated the new Queen’s nurses with equal pride. “Receiving the title is an achievement and responsibility,” she said. “You do your work now not only in your name but in ours. Nurses in the community have a greater freedom to assess, diagnose, treat and prescribe, but with these opportunities come new challenges, which we expect you to rise to.”

And having met some of those nurses, it is clear it is a challenge they are more than capable of meeting. Congratulations for proving that being the best is still something worth being, and wear your Queen’s Nurses’ badge with pride.


Readers' comments (5)

  • and what is it about the profession that pushes nurses to drink and take drugs??? perhaps thats the issues that should be dealt with here. Instead of penalising nurses all the time maybe we should be looking at cause and effect. Maybe if we were looked after better, paid more, better working conditions ect and had more respect within the country and as a profession this would not happen. But unfortunately in order to do this nurses have to stick together, stop playing martyrs and start sticking up for themselves! until this happens nothing will ever change.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • there are very many excellent nurses around working without thanks and in appaling conditions which fail to match their skills, qualifications and the work they do in what is supposed to be one of the richest and reputedly progressive countries in the world. why don't they get recognition and why are others being singled out as proving that they are the best, and receiving a title for it? Does this title actually mean something and how do they display it?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The Queen's Nurse title is open to any registered nurse, working in the community, who has at least three years' experience. You can read more about it on the QNI website at . The next application date is 5 November, but there will be more application dates next year. The QNI is trying to foster a national network of community nurses who share a professional identity. We offer bursaries, training, and other developmental opportunities. We would encourage any eligible nurse to apply. Queen's Nurses can put QN after their name, and receive a certificate and badge at an award ceremony that takes place twice a year in London.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • what about equality?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Let's not forget, that All Nurses are accountable for all their actions, or inactions.
    There simply is no room for being 'neglectful'.
    However, when working conditions become so incredibly poor and is affected due to 'lack of staff'; lack of basic materials/equipment, the solution would be to improve these areas, in order for nurse to apply their valuable knowledge and skills in their daily work.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.