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Focus of nursing 'fundamentally wrong', says Mid Staffs chair


Nurses should stop trying to defend the profession against charges of poor standards and accept responsibility for making things better, according to the chair of Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Sir Stephen Moss, a nurse by training, told Nursing Times there was something “fundamentally wrong” with the current focus of the nursing profession and revealed he is working with five other nurse leaders to find ways to “help both the profession and the wider NHS get things right”.

“We can have a really high standard of knowledge and a really high quality technical skills but unless nursing care is delivered with kindness and compassion we are still going to let patients down… I’m not convinced we’re investing enough time in kindness and compassion. It needs to have a stronger base in the curriculum,” he said.

Sir Stephen, who spent the bulk of his clinical practice in intensive care, would not reveal the names of the other five members of the group, saying all were all in sensitive positions. The group, some of whom are nursing directors, has met three times and will meet again in September. They hope to go public in the autumn.

“We are people that have come together for a common passion. We are not going to be the solution but we are people who have got a wide range of networks and can exert influence,” he said.

Sir Stephen joined the board of Mid Staffs in February 2009 as the trust was still struggling to come to terms with the appalling standards of care exposed by the Healthcare Commission’s report a year earlier.

He had previously spent 20 years as director of nursing at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre before taking on the role of chief executive for two years. He retired from the role in 2005.

Sir Stephen said although he would not advocate a return to the days when nurses did all their training on the ward, that system had a lot of value in the “strong presence” of teaching staff in clinical areas which helped instil values.

However, he said trusts also needed to take their responsibilities for educating nurses more seriously and make sure newly qualified nurses received support, guidance and adequate mentoring to help them develop.

“I’m proud to be a nurse and the last thing I want to see happen is that nursing is talked down because there are some excellent examples of good nursing. But we have to accept in light of all the recent reports [exposing poor care] and having lived through the last two years in Mid Staffs and having heard from the patients and families we are still letting people down.

“Our maturity as a profession will show through if we stop trying to defend ourselves and accept that we all have a responsibility.”


Readers' comments (27)

  • I think most nurses would like to hold patients hands, sit and reassure them more. Unfortunately due to inadequate staffing on the wards and more and more paperwork there just isn't enough time. To be told we do not show kindness and compassion is an insult, the majority of nurses are ran ragged from coming onto shift to going home. Sir Moss should come and work on a ward and see the changes that have happened over the years and how much more demanding our role is.

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  • To anonymous above,
    I honestly think that you have missed the point.
    We, the nursing profession and that includes you, have got into this awful state of indequate staffing, more and more paperwork etc.. etc... by supporting weak leadership in the nursing profession.
    We ( and I mean me and every other nurse) have not challenged and stood our ground to protect high quality nursing leadership and nursing practice.
    Don't tell me that these Directors of Nursing did not apply for their jobs to constantly challenge; they applied for the career progression, the salary and the compliance to keep their salary.
    We have very few champions in nursing these days but lots of nurse leaders who are compliant with the managerial model of the NHS and complacent about really tackling the heart of the problem.
    No one inside the NHS really seems to want to stand up and be counted - they seem to rely on Dignity programmes and outside lobbying organisations such as A Dignifed Revolution to try and change.
    The whole nursing profession, and that includes the RCN AND the NMC as well as Nurse Directors, CNOs and individual nurses, need to stand up and demand a change in the system now.
    We are not the angels to the public now, we have lost our image and their confidence in our care. We need to act now and earn that confidence back.

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  • Anonymous | 9-Aug-2011 12:21 pm

    "We need to act now and earn that confidence back."

    there are a huge number of commentators who keep repeating this but who has any idea how this can be achieved?

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  • Isn't about time we stopped hiding behind the anonymous button. Possible the only way to earn confidence is to put our head above the parapet and say 'I will be responsible for starting the change in my area' and yes I can hear all the shouts and rapid fingers insulted that you haven't tried, that the RCN and NMC don't give whistle blowers safety etc etc Leadership isn't about better managers its about individual personal behaviour. Your choice.

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  • and leading from the bottom up as well as the bottom down?

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  • tinkerbell

    Catherine Cooley | 9-Aug-2011 12:47 pm

    Catherine, hear, hear. I will be the first follower, any ideas about how to go about it? All my emails to MP's, etc., get me nowhere but a reply to say they have been received.

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  • 'there just isn't enough time. To be told we do not show kindness and compassion is an insult'

    The statement was that it is needed - and that seems to be true. You agree but then state we don't have time. Perhaps these senior nurses are going to lead a fightback... If so I applaud them.

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  • tinkerbell | 9-Aug-2011 2:49 pm

    and my MP Anne Milton is a nurse!

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  • Hi Tinkerbell....thank you for joining me in giving your real name!! Magic wand would be useful if you have one. The reality is we need to look at our own area of practice and decide what we can do to make that small area the best it can be. The silly comments about responding to 'kindness and compassion' need to remember that the public watch the media and respond to them. We need a campaign to show the media the fantastic work that actually goes on....but would it sell papers??
    Todays appalling riots are fueled by a media who loves to show pictures of yobs jumping on police cars...what fun! for goodness sake...if people want to fight and riot they could join the real men fighting for freedom and justice in other countries....I digress!
    Let us try very hard to have some small way today of doing one thing that makes us feel proud to be a nurse...look at #riotcleanup they make me proud!

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  • The idea of having nurses who are now managers in uniform on the ward should be a must. Being aware is different from being in it. Nurses have extended their practice and taken on so many of the roles that were once the domain of the JHO and SHO that that managing that all important 'time' with the patient and their families is becoming more and more difficult.

    First step should be protecting the role of the SCN. Too much time is spent covering shifts preventing them from being visible and accessible for staff, patients and families. Speculate to accumulate the trust and confidence that is being lost

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