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.”