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What’s so funny about men dressed up as ‘naughty nurses’?


Last week’s news story about a community trust refusing funds raised by men dressed up as nurses provoked a mixed response from nurses. 

The event, organised by the League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital, raised £2,500 for much-needed medical equipment but the Shropshire Community Health Trust suggested it was “sexualised, demeaning and insulting to the nursing profession”.

While some Nursing Times readers felt it was little more than harmless fun others found it insulting to the profession.

“The story does draw attention to the long-standing problem of casual sexism that nurses – both male and female – face in the workplace.”

June Girvin, an emeritus professor of nursing who voiced concerns about the story on Twitter, is crowd-funding to raise £1,500 to replace some of the lost funds. She posted on her Just Giving page that “The chief executive and chair have made the brave decision to refuse the financial donation” and “Many nurses are pleased to see senior leaders speaking out against this kind of lazy stereotyping”.

This may all seem like a trivial sideshow at a time when nurses are struggling with problems of recruitment and retention and, as we reported last week, a drop in recruits to nurse training.

However, the story does draw attention to the long-standing problem of casual sexism that nurses – both male and female – face in the workplace.

I’m sure many of you have been spoken to or touched inappropriately while at work. As an 18-year-old first-year student nurse, I had to fend off a patient who tried to kiss me. What happened was inappropriate, but at the time I was unsure whether I could or should tell anyone, and anxious about how I should respond to the perpetrator.

How many of us reported events like this or asked for help in dealing with these difficult and offensive situations? And if we did speak out, what response did we receive?

“How many of us reported events like this or asked for help in dealing with these difficult and offensive situations?”

I remember telling a third-year student about the patient and she suggested that sort of behaviour was to be expected and I would get used to it.

What really worries me is that 36 years after I started my training, nurses are still describing incidents where patients behave in verbally and physically inappropriate ways.

The Ludlow fundraising event has provided an opportunity to air our discomfort and irritation at the strange and distorted ways our profession is represented. As one nurse commented on the Nursing Times website:

“There are so many other ways these men could have raised money but they chose to use a tired old stereotype of the buxom, ‘sexy’ nurse, which I hoped had been consigned to the dustbin of history. Just because they have done this for years does not make it right”.



Readers' comments (8)

  • Get a grip! These people have generously given time and money to raise funds for their local hospital. Perhaps if the NHS was less concerned with things that were harmless and well-intentioned, they could address the really important issues such as staffing, retention and staff morale!

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  • These men cant win- dress up in recognised typical old fashioned uniform as fancy dress and they get ridiculed; if they wore proper uniform scrubs they would no doubt get ridiculed for imitating a health care professional.

    Now because some individuals are so up their own backside and views without looking at the well intentioned larger picture, a large sum of money has been refused that could have helped. God knows the NHS needs as much funding as possible.
    Don't take it so personal, women dress up as police for fancy dress or military, and men couldnt care less.
    Sexual prejudice and discrimination is wrong, however, these men werent promoting it, they were promoting funding.

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  • I can't believe this is still an issue! I did not see these men as sexualising nurses or demeaning them, I saw men in drag having fun! I don't think this would influence the type of people who might abuse nurses. Abuse of health care staff ( not including the confused delirious patient ) is often down to influence of drugs/ alcohol especially in emergency departments and the attitude of some individuals who believe they can behave in a totally acceptable way without consequence. I don't believe these individuals are influenced by men in drag and I believe managers would be using their time/influence more effectively looking at these issues.

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  • I agree. People recognise the pressure that nurses are under and the shortage of funds for the units and try to help out. To refuse the money was madness, they could have been thanked and gently pointed out that some people do not like the "drag" image but be grateful they thought of us at all. I wonder who did benefit from the funds.
    Grow up ladies!

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  • I agree with the above comments.

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  • Respect for nurses is very low and this kind of demeaning does not help. "Carry on" series pictured nurses as being sex-mad but lets be clear, nurses have no intention, or time, to present themselves other than carring, hard-working professionals

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  • Some nurses DO like to be represented as sexy. I saw of one in a parade lorry "Topless"

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  • WHO cares what they wear the NHS needs the money Fact!! The worlds gone mad!

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