So the headline news today is that nursing and training of nurses is to blame for what happened at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
That is what the public will be taking away from the government response to Francis.
Six weeks in the making, and all this response seems to have done is tinker around at the edges instead of giving us some things that would really make a difference to the nursing profession.
Where is the commitment to really making ward sisters supervisory? Hospitals will be given action plans for senior nurses to fulfill their supervisory role but how will that release the time for them to do this. There is the rejection of the older person’s nurse and no mention of Francis’s proposed role of key nurses?
The emphasis on rounding pleases the crowd but how it will work on a day to day basis is unclear. It’s more work for the daily shift without giving the increase in communication and teamwork envisaged by Mr Francis.
The things that will hugely improve the standards of care being offered in hospitals will of course take resource, money and commitment.
Far, far easier to appease the public who believe that nurses are bereft of compassion by telling them that now universities will only be recruiting student nurses who have proved they are caring and prepared to take people to the toilet and help them have a drink.
But all of us know that universities have been doing that – and doing it very well – for years. Their recruitment and selection panels involve academics and qualified nurses and often patients, patient groups, all of whom are skilled can identify those nurses who demonstrate compassion.
Students are still required to spend 50% of their time on placement. All this is serving to do is reignite the “too clever to care” “too posh to wash” debate. And that’s not helpful.
If we are sick, of course we all want to be looked after by a compassionate nurse, but a nurse that doesn’t have the skills to understand what is going on with their patient can kill them. Competence is just as important as compassion, in fact more important. It may not be fashionable to say it, but it is.
And if unregulated healthcare assistants providing care was a problem then surely the last thing we need is more unregulated staff providing essential care?
By focusing on the fact that all that is needed is a kind word and a smile, the government is undermining the important role nurses play in patient care.
So this constant bashing of student training needs to stop. The public, the media and government need to understand that what makes a nurse uncaring is not inadequate training or poor selection but shift after shift on an under-resourced ward or unit, fatigued and stressed out by having too many patients to look after.
Better to look closer at minimum staffing levels to ensure there are more nurses to provide the care. After all no amount of training can enable a nurse to be able to take two patients to the toilets at once, while feeding another, and helping someone else to have a drink. While another patient calls out for pain relief. Well can it?
Follow our live coverage of the government’s response to the Francis report during the day