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OPINION

'There’s a reason why nurses don’t drive 4x4s and it’s not cost'

  • 10 Comments

I ‘m trying to get into my local supermarket but appear to be stuck behind a 4x4 Volvo the size of Belgium.

It has no indicators apparently and I say to my daughter: “Is this a car in front of us or a blockade?” “I can’t see the sky Dad,” she says. “It must be a house. Go somewhere where it isn’t.” I agree with her and decide to go the long way around the car park just so I am not near the stupid Volvo.

As we make our way into the shop we see it again, parked across the two disabled bays nearest the entrance. It has no disability badge and I find myself irrationally cross. I want to punish the car, not firebomb it exactly but certainly find the driver and be very sarcastic at them. I am outraged, the thoughtlessness offends me. Well it must do - this happened two days ago and I am still banging on about it.

“Get a life” I hear someone say, or “There are more important things to get annoyed about in the world” - which doesn’t help really because I just start thinking about some of them and become even more annoyed.

Of course, in a way the Volvo driver is blessed by something that I might consider to be ignorance but what may otherwise be seen as an easygoing insouciance. In short, she didn’t care remotely about anything except her capacity to shop easily. She probably doesn’t even notice there are other people on the planet. And those disabled signs she just stuck her car across? She thinks of them as targets.

There must be something gloriously liberating about not caring mustn’t there? I thought this when I read of the NHS Commissioning Board’s incoming chief executive Sir David Nicholson’s reflections on the challenges facing hospitals in the coming months. He suggested that if hospitals do not adapt to remain competitive they may have to close. OK, so I confess I may just be grumpy about Volvo lady, but underpinning that sort of analysis is the inherent expectation that hospitals will do whatever they have to in order to remain open. They will compromise, reorganise and make cuts because that is what is demanded of them, and the people who work in them and use them will experience difficulty because of that. Hospitals will change in order to survive, because they care about what they do.

Don’t you sometimes think that it might be quite liberating to simply say: “Nah, it’s alright. Close us down, all of us, because the budgets you propose, the business models and the ethos you demand and the compromises you insist on are simply rubbish. What we do is too important to entertain that nonsense so let’s not bother, eh?”

There is something profoundly disempowering about being the “keepers of the care”. There you are trying to safeguard standards or principles while around you are politicians treating the most important element of a civil society - the capacity to protect and care for its members - as an irritating waste of resources that could otherwise be spent on banking.

We are hamstrung by the responsibilities that go with caring and, in truth, there is nothing we can do about it. But sometimes, just sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to collectively say: “Yeah, close it all down, we’re all going to take a few weeks off. Let us know what you are going to do with all the money you save. And where you are going to bury all the bodies of course.”

  • 10 Comments

Readers' comments (10)

  • **clapping** well said!

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  • That would leave 'them' standing in the corridors with their mouths flapping open!

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  • Exactly! I could not agree more! Maybe then, the general public and those in power would realise just how valuable we are. We aren't just a public service, we are a public necessity. Healthcare is not an optional resource, it is a vital and indispensable part of any society. The ONLY way we can make the powers that be realise this however IS by removing our services. The only way to do this is by striking. Perhaps there is an element of churlishness about taking our ball and going home, but perhaps it is the only way we can regain control of our profession by stating once and for all that WE, the ones who are on the front line, are in control, by stating once and for all that healthcare should no longer be controlled by the whims of petty politicians and business interests; then we can demand the resources we need, instead of going cap in hand to beg for substandard conditions and resources.

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  • That really made me giggle Mark, thankyou. The polar opposite from what a lot of us do day to day, what liberation not to care!

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  • Also..interesting question...how to respond to those who do not care?

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  • Latterlife Midwife

    My question to you - can the NHS continue this way? Should it? The philosophy is right, but the administration of it is not working well. I've worked for the NHS 4 years now (on the 'shop floor'), and am very discouraged by the endless problems (like being nibbled to death by ducks), whilst at the same time being proud of a system that offers health care to residents as a right, not a privilege.

    However, nurses and midwives suffer so much in the course of their work that I cannot imagine this continuing as it is (staffing ratios, support staff, equipment, supplies, etc). I speak from the perspective of having been a registered nurse in the USA for 35 years before coming here. It was certainly no bed of roses, but working here is becoming a bed of thorns - or maybe it always has been?

    Thanks for the expected suggestions to go back where I came from - lol! I'm sadly considering it. :-(

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  • Latterlife Midwife | 12-Mar-2011 10:44 am

    sadly the NHS are so shortsighted that they loose so many excellent but disillusioned human resources to other countries where the working conditions are better.

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  • Couldn't agree more! It's pretty ridiculous already and will only get worse if we let it.

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  • It is true that our inherent compassion and drive for the best for our patients can also be our undoing. We need to stand back and maybe appreciate that taking what seems the most uncaring actions for our patients (eg. Striking or working to rule) may actually reap the most benefits for them in the longer term.

    By continuing to accept these proposals we are effectively accepting poorer quality of care for our patients, with the result that we won't actually have to go on strike: We will all have either burnt-out or emigrated anyway!

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  • Having been retired from the NHS for 5 years I went back to visit my colleagues and was shocked to hear the disillusionment about working conditions. There were concerns about the ability to deliver care, the watering down of qualified staff with care workers; the worst concern was one of accountability. The stress of trying to ensure care delivery was up to the expected standard was causing young RGN's stress related illness and sickness absence levels had increased. What is happening in the name of 'improvements' and cost savings when 24 year olds are ill with work related stress?

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