Will people ever really understand what nursing actually is and that it’s a lot more complex than wandering around, asking if someone wants a cup of tea or their pillows plumped?
Last week health secretary Jeremy Hunt addressed delegates at the NHS Confederation in Liverpool and said he had visited several hospitals as part of the government’s plan to get health ministers more in touch with the front line of healthcare provision. He mentioned working as a housekeeper, doing photocopying, acting as a porter, assisting on a GP telephone line and washing down beds. He also said he had done hourly nursing rounds at Salford but said “no clinical roles were involved in this”.
What is intentional rounding, if it is not clinical?
One would have thought that with intentional rounding being the government’s seemingly biggest focus in nursing that the health secretary would be fully conversant with what it actually is.
But again, it seems that nursing is seen as a set of compassionate tasks - and not a role that requires clinical prowess.
There are people in very senior positions in the NHS who seem to think that compassionate care and clinical tasks are divorced from each other
The health secretary is not alone. There are several people in very senior positions in the NHS who seem to think that compassionate care and clinical tasks are divorced from each other.
Nothing can be further from the truth - those tasks such as helping a patient with their meals or washing can provide a wealth of clinical insight. And those clinical tasks - such as administering pain relief promptly - must be accomplished with compassion.
Worse than that, we still have people in the NHS who believe there is no need for nurses to have degrees or any form of education. Some look back with rose-tinted spectacles on their halcyon days of training and believe anyone who puts the letters “SEN” or “SRN” on their CVs are superior to those who can put “BSc” after their names. I’m not suggesting you need a degree to be a fantastic nurse, but I am angered and frustrated by the view that having a degree automatically precludes you from showing compassion.
Nursing is complex. It requires intelligence, knowledge and wisdom to know how to help a patient get better, and compassion, insight and experience to know how to make a patient feel better.
That nurses have increased their portfolios to take on more clinical responsibilities is better for the patient and the profession. Patients are seen quicker by a clinically competent and compassionate professional. So let’s start telling people what nursing really is, and let’s make sure that they hear us.
Jenni Middleton, editor
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed