Buckle up, because this year is going to be a bumpy ride. Soon the service will be feeling the impact of the Francis report - the latest into Mid Staffs - which is expected to hit the nursing profession harder than anything before.
Look out for brutal cross-examinations in the media and some high-level discomfort among politicians and senior health figures.
But it will be nurses who, once again, will take the full force of the blow. Their competence, their ability and most importantly their humanity will be scrutinised - and the mistakes of the few will be paid for by the many.
Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, makes an interesting point in his opinion on page 7 that it is not OK to believe that because most care is actually pretty good, if not excellent, we can allow a few poor incidents to be overlooked. Of course, he is right. That sort of “statistical justification” is unacceptable for those affected by slipping standards. Lessons must be learnt, but against this backdrop it may well be difficult to hold onto the belief that nursing still has much to be proud of in the weeks and months ahead.
While the media will be piling on the pressure and detailing how inadequate nursing is, nurses will be trying to do the best job they can with less than ever before
In a pre-emptive strike, the government has unveiled its plans to reinvigorate the profession. The prime minister recently announced his plans to extend the “friends and family test” out to community services, launched the district nursing strategy, reinforced his commitment to hourly rounding and emphasised care and compassion by flagging up the 6Cs nursing strategy.
And in the most controversial of the announcements, he launched the “care makers”. More than 1,000 ambassadors who will promote the values of the 6Cs (see page 2).
The government’s mid-term figures claim that the NHS is doing very nicely under its stewardship, thank you. Infection rates of MRSA and C difficile are down, and clinical posts are 2,642 up.
The Royal College of Nursing’s Frontline First campaign paints a different picture; it claims that 61,000 posts have been axed or earmarked to go, including 7,000 nursing roles.
So while many have embraced the idea of the 6Cs, there are quite a few within the profession who are sceptical and are asking about the seventh C - Cuts.
The media will be piling on the pressure and detailing how inadequate nursing is, meanwhile nurses will be trying to do the best job they can with less than ever before. Care and compassion from nurses is important, but the 6Cs should also be a reminder that care and compassion should be shown to nurses, as well as their patients.
Jenni Middleton, editor
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed