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'We must be honest if nursing is to improve'


At the Nursing Times Deputies’ Congress last week, the most popular speakers were the directors of nursing we’d invited because they tell it how it is.

They are honest about the fact that it’s a tough job, that you will sometimes have to take bullets for the medical director, that often you’re a lone voice on the board standing up for quality and safety (and, in many cases, if you are female, you may be the only woman on the board).

The feedback about these speakers from our deputy directors of nursing was glowing because they were so candid. There was no whitewashing, no trying to pretend that everything in the garden smells of roses – they were, as one delegate put it, “real”.

So let’s get real. The bursary is being removed because universities can’t survive in the current funding model and the government doesn’t want to pay more. Will adding competition improve the standard of education? Possibly. Will adding debt put off some talented would-be nurses – particularly those who want to enter nurse education as mature students? Undoubtedly.

The chief nurse of Heart of England Foundation Trust Sam Foster also spoke at the Deputies’ Congress. She revealed that in meetings about the new nursing associate role or the bursary, she has often been the only nurse present.

These things happen to nursing rather than with nursing because often nurses aren’t confident enough to step up and make their voices heard. Ms Foster encouraged nurses to do just this – to stand up and help shape the changing landscape.

I would agree with her that nurses need to find their voice, but it must be honest. Nurses shouldn’t trot out the political spin – their values mean they must at all times be truthful.

I understand that directors of nursing who can’t recruit registered nurses want – and need – the nursing associate role. But after fighting for an all-graduate profession, it feels a bit bizarre to create a new route into nursing without admitting that the reason behind it is cost. Nursing associates are a means of creating a cheaper nursing workforce that’s trained and regulated so that, in the scheme of things, they are better than the average healthcare assistant but not as skilled as the registered nurse.

But no one will admit that. And isn’t that, well just a little bit dishonest?




Readers' comments (6)

  • I see your point Jenni but until you master that a part of the problem is nursing directors we get no where. The language of having a voice sounds great but when it has to be according to authoritarian rule of sometimes hidden puppet master nursing directors it is stifled. If we want a voice for nursing we have to sweep aside repugnant nursing directors where they exist and I'm sure they do. I understand your language of gender fairness in having voices at board level but that's no good when you have these layers of management stiffling women of a working class or lower economic level. But you also forget to mention a predominantly female profession that subconsciously or consciously maybe willing to discriminate against nurses who are male. Dare I say are we creating a level of management that are too happy and morally grotesque to jump on diversity issues in order to further their own career?

    The one common thread is the economic difficulties of those at the frontline including patients and that's what the board should be concentrating on. Get off your middle class possibly aging, middle/ senior management/ profession backsides and think about your staff and patients. Until then stop your winging. How about that for truth and a voice?

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  • michael stone

    See also:

    And no, it isn't one of mine - it was written by Benny Goodman, Lecturer and RN Plymouth University.

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  • Michael I've heard of Benny Goodman and read his response. I was one of those in a community of nurses somewhere who spoke up in regard to health and safety of staff and patients and I strongly suspect nursing management or specifically the nursing director tried to shut me up via their underlings. The story is horrendous but it makes me sick to hear these nursing directors winge. My experience is nursing directors do know what is going on but don't want to risk themselves or look bad, instead some I suspect are willing to go to extreme lengths in an attempt to destroy good nurses. Nurses do not have a voice and can be treated as under human if they do. But there are others way to make them recognise professional resistance is possible and they can not disregard existance. My best advice is if the language of business management reigns prominent in the NHS - then avoid.

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  • michael stone

    ANONYMOUS 19 APRIL, 2016 7:02 PM

    ' My best advice is if the language of business management reigns prominent in the NHS - then avoid.'

    I strongly suspect that is right. I have a rather similar issue, which crops up in my end-of-life 'campaign': if I get a reply from someone which is 'full of jargon' I tend to assume I will not be getting any sense out of them. As I put it in one of my BMJ responses:

    'Bee also 'writes like a human' (see footnote): it is very
    discouraging, to a layman attempting to discuss an issue 'with the NHS', if the person you are trying to discuss the issue with, 'responds 'like a robot' by simply pointing at this, that and the other policy document, or is totally 'evasive''.'

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  • Michael I may write as a nurse but more than that I am human and believe as such you're spot on. The jargon of the robotic spiel is destroying the notion of empathetic and considerate care and has been hijacked by the egotistical including statistical academics and pseudo sophistry of management. The better individual/ group truth is in the humane and so statistics and EBP has also been hijacked to perhaps minimise people from questioning or having alternative caring views. Whist I like B.Goodman his or Rolfe's version of paraversity is too weak to make a difference. Neo liberal nonsense reigns at present and make every nurse at risk of automotive methodologies and language that would rob him or her of better moral conscience, ability to think, care and ability to make decisions beyond rigid parameters of ideology stemming from government.

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  • michael stone

    ANONYMOUS 22 APRIL, 2016 9:45 PM

    The really annoying aspect of this 'jargon', is that people take what look like 'everyday words/phrases' and then attach 'specialised meanings' to the terms. So laymen are hearing words which have an 'everyday and intuitive meaning' to them, but which have a different meaning to the professional uttering this 'jargon'. You can also throw in 'if you can't explain it without using jargon, there is a good chance you are either trying to bamboozle people, or else that you don't really understand what you are talking about'.

    I've written about that on Dignity in Care:

    I called the piece:

    'Argue the Toss: Necessary Specialist Terminology or Mysterious Confusing Language'

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