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Nursing must respond to failings in essential care


The publication of the first 12 reports from an inspection programme of hospitals by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has once again highlighted how much work the profession still has to do to ensure consistent standards of essential care.

Unlike some of the recent television exposés, where some nurses have argued that scenarios were taken out of context to suit the programmes’ ambitions, this series of unannounced visits involved a practising nurse, experts by experience - who are carers of older patients or older people who have been patients - as well as CQC inspectors. It would be churlish to suggest they do not have the expertise to make these judgements.

In three of the 12 hospitals inspected, fundamental mistakes were made in frontline care as staff failed to keep patients informed, hydrated, nourished and maybe worst of all - respected.

Assessing hydration and nutrition forms part of the high impact actions, and is an essential aspect of care. Any nurses who don’t understand its importance, and need to be told by a doctor’s prescription to administer water - as was the case in one of the hospitals - should reconsider their career. Next week we’ll be looking at some of the clinical issues raised by these reports.

What’s infuriating about these findings is that once again the excellent care being offered in the hospitals concerned is overshadowed by inexcusable tales of neglect.

The timing of these reports - published when nursing is trying to ensure it will be taken seriously in the new-look NHS - is not ideal. But the profession must not ignore this further wake-up call to identify poor practice and do all they can to eradicate it.
However, while nursing must address its shortcomings, it must not fail to celebrate the superb initiatives and care that prevails across most of the profession.

The Nursing Times Awards are open for entry, and there has never been a better time to show that nursing is a compassionate, credible and conscientious profession. The deadline for entries is July 1. See


Readers' comments (9)

  • Fundamentally agree that the failings in our nursing profession need urgently addressing - but also agree that the way forward is to do that positively - that there has to be a balanced view. Like all things the solutions will be complex - good role models, robust training in the classroom and on the job, change in culture and attitudes and the ability to speak out rather than get swamped by a group think mentality. Still like Jennie's idea about a campaign approach.

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  • Bull! It is not NURSES that need to respond these standards!

    The VAST majority of us are killing ourselves trying to provide the highest possible care and medical treatment for our patients, only to find ourselves losing an uphill battle against p**s poor working conditions, a moronic business mentality, no support, etc etc etc.

    Nurses ARE ALREADY doing all they can!!! It is time the managers, the directors and the government respond to these failings! In the same court of law we would be subject to if something went wrong if necessary.

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  • I also fundamentally agree that failings in the nursing profession require to be urgently adressed.

    Whilst there are many areas of excellence, there are, unfortuntely, areas of neglect. Poor attititude and poor training and of course poor role models will only serve to perpetuate these failings.

    We must be professional in our approach and problem solving of these situations, learn to accept criticism and stop blaming all and sundry for the failings of registered nurses and those who come within their remit.

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  • The Nursing Times Award is open once again.The Winner was Castlebeck 2010. I hope you all choke on your award dinners...

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  • Totally agree with Mike!

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  • Spot on Mike.

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  • Mike you ought to start a new nursing union. You would get my vote!

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  • and, acknowledge that one of, if not THE reason nurses do not whistleblow more often, is the cost of doing so.

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  • Anonymous | 6-Jun-2011 1:57 pm any idea on how to go about starting one? Perhaps we should all just remove Carter from his post at the RCN!

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