A former shadow health minister has admitted that Labour’s push for all new nurses to be educated to degree-level may be responsible for some of the current problems in the health service.
Diane Abbott, who was recently removed from her role by Ed Miliband as he reshuffled his frontbench team, claims that putting an emphasis on exams and inputting data on a computer has had a detrimental effect on the basic levels of care.
The Labour MP believes the latter skills are what people really value in a nurse, not how well they can navigate IT systems.
“You will be aware at the disappointment that there’s still no proper system of regulation for healthcare assistants,” she told health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
“But do you also understand that for many members of the public, one of the problems with general standards of care in the health service may have been the push under a Labour government for an all-graduate nursing profession.
“And there is a view, which is strongly held by members of the public, that what that has led to is elevating taking exams and inputting data on a computer over and above the basic levels of care, which is what the public really value in a nurse.”
Mr Hunt echoed these sentiments and admitted that something needs to be done to remedy the situation.
“Never have you spoken with so much support on this side of the House - not wishing to destroy your credibility with your own party,” he said.
“You point to something the public feels very strongly about and I think is an issue in some parts of the nursing profession.”
The health secretary stands by his idea that people should spend some time on the frontline as a healthcare assistant before becoming a nurse.
He claims this would ensure that individuals going into nursing have the right values and recognise that giving personal care is a fundamental part of being what a nurse is all about.
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