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Problem nurses not being dealt with, PM's commission is told


Nurses displaying bad attitudes towards patients are routinely being moved to different wards instead of being challenged on their performance, staff have told the prime minister’s commission on nursing.

The nurses were attending an event held by NHS London last Wednesday to hear views on the work of the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery.

The commission’s “vision” statement, which talks of nurses releasing their untapped potential and taking centre stage in health leadership, was called “lovely” and a “nice vision” by attendees.

But they also said that in order to achieve the vision, the NHS needs to find better ways of dealing with poor performers.

One unnamed nurse said she did not know what to do about a member of her team who “talked to patients like dirt”.

Another said: “It’s very difficult to manage certain attitudes, we need to be empowered with the ability to support our staff and help them internalise their problems.”

It was felt by some that human resources departments in the NHS were overly defensive.

A nurse said: “We’re so protected in the NHS. In the banking industry they’d have to either step up or go out but in the NHS they’re just moved to another ward.”

Some called for a national contract on the professional behaviour expected of nurses and midwives.

Participants also discussed the commission’s 10 “hot topics” – areas requiring more debate.

Ideas for clarifying roles included having a national uniform and providing clearer information to patients.

One group suggested describing nurses in generic terms such as qualified nurses, matrons and specialists.

Roles also needed to be more clearly explained within trusts so that clinicians working across departments were able to identify colleagues with extra qualifications such as prescribing powers, they said.

Regional events are being held around the country before the commission delivers its final report to Gordon Brown early next year.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We enjoyed hearing what nurses and midwives had to say at this event and we will take these comments onboard alongside the range of views expressed at our events, which have taken place across the country.

“Tackling poor performance is an issue that the commission has identified as being important - we are currently exploring whether current performance development and supervision systems need to change, as set out in our hot topic questions.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • As qualified nurses we do have a professional code of conduct we are expected to work within, but from past experience when we have a difficult issue with a member of staff, human resources have been very unsupportive, giving advice on how to deal with the situation and not supporting the person trying to deal with the situation and follow up support after the event is none existent

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  • It is very true that poor nursing attitudes are not addressed. It is also true that "bad" caring staff get moved to another ward instead of dealing with the issues. As hospitals downsize this leaves less wards to send these staff to, resulting in some wards (especially) in small hospitals or trusts, end up being a repository for care staff who's professional approaches are suspect.

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  • I also agree with this article.

    I have also experienced the repeated dangerous practice by one nurse being reported. That person is now working elsewhere withtin the Trust.

    As a nurse, you are encouraged by the NMC to "whistle-blow" on bad practice, but it seems it is just passed on to a new team to deal with and always at the patient's detriment.

    On the flip side, I have also heard of good nurses being struck off for (in my opinion) minor things.

    What a job we have!

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  • I also, agree with the above commets. I have to add that I have found Human Resources dishonest and hostile towards nurses who report poor practice,or raise concerns about patient care. Good nurses are frequently subjected to intimidation, and mobbed out of their careers when they make such reports. Little wonder that we regularly of the malpractice that Margaret Haywood reported.

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  • It often happens that the problem nurses are in a clique with someone at the top or so manipulative that whatever happens, it gets swept under the carpet.
    The most demoralising thing of all is that instead of problem nurses being dealt with, they get ahead and that wrots the system to the core. A lot of nurses just end up putting up with it because as stated, nothing gets done. You'd just get victimised and driven out.

    Its not only in nursing though, its all over, the media, politics. Certain ministers get booted out of the government after some scandal, yet a few years down the line they assume better positions.
    The whole system is flawed. Its sad

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  • as the text says " our staff and help them internalise their problems."

    taboo... bottle it up until you burn out, but don't bother us with it.

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