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

Nursing must not carry the can for Mid Staffs

  • Comments (32)

While there can be few groups within the NHS looking forward to the Francis report into Mid Staffordshire Trust, the nursing profession appears to have most to fear. Large swathes of the general media already seem to assume that the largest proportion of blame rests with nurses.

They will almost certainly report numerous distressing stories of neglect and appalling practice among nurses at the hospital. They will also doubtless demand major changes to nurse education, question once more the move to degree-only entry, and accuse nurses of becoming at best box-ticking robots and at worst cruel sadists who cannot be bothered to cross a ward to help a patient in distress.

There is, of course, no excuse for what happened in Stafford, and it is crucial that lessons are learned so it can never be repeated. And yes, some nurses are individually culpable. But that is far from the whole story – other individuals and professions played their part in these tragic events, so why is nursing being singled out for such vilification? Why is there an assumption that nursing is broken and that all the failings can be laid at its door?

The Daily Telegraph has been particularly keen to accuse the profession, yet its sister paper the Sunday Telegraph reported that complaints had been received about 41 doctors and ‘at least’ 29 nurses at the trust. Given the ratio of doctors to nurses, it would be reasonable to assume that by far the greater proportion of complaints would be about nurses, yet I don’t hear doctors being attacked so vociferously.

Nursing cannot be allowed to carry the can for all the wrongs at Mid Staffordshire. Yes, it must hold up its hands and accept its share of the blame, but other professions must do the same. Nurses cannot fail so spectacularly in a vacuum – it takes an entire hospital and numerous failures in regulatory systems to allow up to 1,200 people to die unnecessarily.

If the NHS is to learn from Mid Staffordshire, the Francis report must be considered in an even-handed manner with a willingness to make changes wherever they are needed rather than focusing on one profession.

And the government must be willing to take a constructive approach to addressing any resource issues that this raises. Anything less is unfair to the nursing profession and, more importantly, an insult to the people who died needlessly and the families they left behind.

  • Comments (32)

Readers' comments (32)

  • Anonymous

    According to the Francis report, the trust failed to provide basic care to patient and patients were neglected. Patient left lying on soiled sheeting and sitting on commodes for hours foruderstaffing as a results of budget cut. Do we need highly trained Nurses to carry these basic care? Surely, the right thing to do is to cut down the number of manager and with the saving employ more carers. We do not need to make changes to Nurse education (training) as this will increase in top line nurses who want higher pay. The nurses on the other hand does not need to be blamed for the wrongs at Mid Staffordshire.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    maybe this will finally put an end to the degree vs non-degree debate.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 18-Jan-2013 12:18 pm

    I just wonder in whose favour - for or against degrees?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How will the finally put an end to the debate? Do you know that every nurse who was culpable held a degree?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Funny how no one ever mentions the Chief Exec who was running Stafford Hospital when all this was going on? perhaps I'm a little old fashioned in believing the example is set from the top?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    No Sarah, you're not. If I was paid that salary, and something went wrong, I would feel I had failed and didn't deserve my position, so I would resign. But no CEO thinks like that, they love money too much.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Lets see what the report finally concludes. Mid staffs could happen in any trust even those who fly their flags the highest. The difference why it does not is the culture, the leadership, the morale, support, values, commitment & sense of pride that deliver the care you would want for your own family, recruit your nurses carefully, deal with the failing ones & stamp out the bad attitudes. As matrons, respect your staff, empower & value them & listen stand up & be counted when you fight for patient safety, don't moan have solution otherwise it's a lonely road then nurses will never take the complete flack for places mid staffs. Oh & don't read the telegraph it's a c*** paper for those who don't live in th real world.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I agree about not reading the Telegraph, or the Mail.

    Someone has suggested we employ more carers and that highly trained nurses shouldn't be changing sheets, helping patients with commodes - this is NOT what we highly trained nurses want - we want to care for our patients, help them in any way we can - that is why we came into nursing. If my senior Clinical Site Manager can help me change a wet sheet I am damn sure the staff nurses and my ward sister can too.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 19-Jan-2013 9:39 am

    I agree. the care of another human being is a great privilege which must never be forgotten. Nobody is above making another human being feel comfortable by whatever means, whether washing them, changing a sheet, emptying a bed pan, speaking to them, allaying their fears, putting them at ease, sharing a simple joke, offering a drink, helping them to eat or whatever they need at the time. It is also beneath nobody and costs nothing to help an overstretched colleague or one who is in distress. Isn't this what care in nursing is all about and isn't nursing all about caring?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 19-Jan-2013 9:51 am

    Anonymous | 19-Jan-2013 9:39 am


    Total agreement.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

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.