I took my daughter to a zoo last week. I’m not comfortable in zoos. I think the animals are looking at me.
Specifically, I mean animals like the monkeys and the big cats and definitely some deer.
I think they look at me and think: “We don’t choose to be in here you know. In fact this whole experience of being locked up and stared at is quite oppressive”. And they may defecate as some sort of protest.
I feel guilty every time I go to a zoo. But my daughter loves animals and, while she also has issues with the whole keeping elephants in captivity thing, we do find zoos educational. Of course, we may be wrong.
We were standing near the giraffes. Weird things, giraffes. I honestly believe that if you think too deeply about them for too long you will fall over. Anyway we were standing there trying not to think about them when we heard a woman, while pointing at them, say to her two children in a voice full of excitement, certainty and absolutely no sarcasm: “Look kids, over there - zebras!”
My daughter glanced at me and I whispered that perhaps the zebras were hiding behind the giraffes. But they weren’t. “Her children won’t know what giraffes are,” whispered Maia. “Do something.” But what should one do? Do you want to be the sort of person who makes a parent look silly in front of their children by saying, “No, they are giraffes; a zebra is a stripy horse. That is a long-necked gangly… non-horse. Easy mistake to make though.” No of course you don’t. “It’s none of our business,” I muttered. “It’s everybody’s business,” said Maia, which made me feel very middle aged. Anyway my point - insofar as I have one - is that sometimes it’s hard to know what to say for risk of offending someone. That and, if you think zebras are long-necked, leaf-eating spotty mammals, you are wrong.
But back to offending people: Nursing Times recently reported that the current Department of Health review may see the senior nursing role downgraded (news, page 2, 16 August). This would mean that, in future, whoever were in this position would not only have to report to one of five director generals rather than the permanent secretary, but they’d also have to sit on one of the hard chairs.
Now, personally, I have never been that excited by the chief nursing officer role, it being a civil service post rather than a political one. It is not the role of the CNO to develop policy but, rather, to try to ease governmental policy decisions into reality. Where that post sits doesn’t much matter in itself does it? Unless that is the symbolism of value that nursing wants - to sit at the “top table” but not have power. Isn’t that a bit patronising?
Surely the fact that nurses have had their pay frozen, their pensions reduced and their priorities ignored is symbol enough of how they are valued by government? Moving the civil servant who is responsible for nursing to a smaller office is at least an honest reflection of nursing’s place in government thinking isn’t it? Frankly, given the respect ordinary nurses are being afforded, I’m surprised the CNO post has not been downgraded to a little light dusting and keeping an eye on the biscuits.
I would prefer to see nursing fight for substantial influence, power, positive change and better services rather than a largely bureaucratic symbol of respect the profession is not afforded. Illusory power for power’s sake just papers over the cracks. If nursing wants to fight for itself there are more important things to focus on than the role of the CNO.