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EDITOR’S COMMENT

'Be proud to be a nurse in the health service'

  • 37 Comments

Over a week has passed since the Olympic opening ceremony in which 600 nurses and other healthcare staff stole the limelight as the world became their audience.

It was a moment of pride – not just for those who work in the NHS, but for the British public. And here’s why.

Most of those athletes who later marched around the Olympic stadium represent countries that can only dream of having a healthcare service that is free at the point of use and treatment delivered dependent on need rather than ability to pay. And our success at maintaining a health service (and let’s hope we can maintain it for many years to come) is something we should salute.

Our excellent nurses and other health professionals who deliver that care may not have a chance to top any podium (although they come pretty close at the Nursing Times Awards). They will not be cheered on by the front pages of the national press as they head out the door to start a long shift. And their handovers will not be accompanied by enthusiastic crowds and the gilding of local landmarks in their home towns. But they are champions none the less. And it is right that we pay tribute to this set of professionals.

The NHS isn’t represented by one of those towering constructions erected to symbolise the industrial revolution at the opening ceremony. It’s not about the buildings or the technology – it’s about the people. And that is why it had to be real staff representing the organisation at that ceremony.

Yes, the NHS is something to be proud of. Say it, shout it. There haven’t been enough people doing that of late. Nurses get it right time after time after time. They deliver excellent care, they save lives, they prevent people getting sicker and they make people feel better when they are ill. Millions of people are touched by the NHS in a positive way every year. Against the backdrop of all the criticism that comes nursing’s way, let’s never forget the sheer volume of lives that are enriched by nurses. That counts. That really counts. And Danny Boyle knows it. And he wants the world to recognise it.

Well done to him for showing off one of the greatest institutions in this country to four billion people. The NHS segment may not have lent itself to fancy graphic displays or celebrity cameos like some parts of the show, but it was just as magical. Feel the pride because as the whole world gathered around their televisions to inspect the UK’s most impressive achievements in the arts, philanthropy and innovation – the NHS was centre stage. Nursing was centre stage. Where it belongs. Now let’s hope that has inspired a generation.

  • 37 Comments

Readers' comments (37)

  • I'm afraid these kind of comments make my skin crawl a bit. There is nothing "special" about nurses or those that work in the health service, in that everybody that contributes to the country is special, whether in the private or public sector. I have been a nurse for many years, and this is somewhat reminiscent of the old TV series, "Nurse of the Year". Yes I am proud of my achievements, but we don't need to parade ourselves like this, and it is just a cynical, gimmicky ploy for the government to parade the NHS in this manner.

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  • I was born in the year the NHS came into being and therefore understand the difference it made to people's lives. I remember vividly the stories my mother related to me of the problems faced in the years previously. There is no doubt in my mind that the NHS should to be cherished and nurtured. I also agree that 'everybody who contirbutes to the country is special'(see Anonymous 7 Aug 2012 3:08), in fact I believe that everybody is special in their own way, however I cannot see why nursing staff should not be proud of their profession or why they should not actively promote the NHS. Nursing today only seems to attract headlines for all the wrong reasons, so come on everyone, be proud of yourself, your achievements and the wonderful NHS. Oh, and I am not afraid to put my name to my views!

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  • Why?

    What exactly are we supposed to be proud of here? Being a nurse or the NHS? Because I'm sorry but I see nothing in the nursing profession to be proud of anymore.

    The NHS was perhaps one of if not the best thing this country has ever done. And I agree that was something we could be proud of. Once. But now the NHS is in its death throes, and will not be around in the form that we know it in 5 years time. Future generations will look back in envy at what we used to have.

    As for the profession, no. There is nothing to be proud of. There used to be, as with all professions such as ours, the police, the fire service, the military, teachers, etc, we could be proud that we were doing something important, we were a part of something bigger and better than ourselves. And as for the first anon, yes people who sacrifice a lot to fill those roles ARE special. But in nursing, that pride has long gone. I became a nurse to help people, to nurse them, to heal them, as I'm sure did many of us. But I spent every day I worked fighting a system that did not allow us to do that. There were some amazing people I met along the way who excelled at doing this in spite of the system, and yes they did for a time instill some pride in me. I was proud to call myself a nurse because despite everything we were helping people. I do still agree that in and of itself should be something to be proud of, but we are not doing that anymore, are we. Are we really helping and treating patients or just praying that the conditions we are forced to work with such as seriously unsafe staffing levels won't have an adverse effect on their care? I spent too long working under extreme conditions, not being able to give the care and help that I knew I should be giving, that I WANTED to give, because of those conditions. I spent too long seeing good nurses burned out, leaving in tears at the end of a shift, being bullied and harrassed by the powers that be and even members of our own profession. What is there to be proud at when our so called profession has to endure conditions like that?

    Also look at what the 'profession' has become, despite being a highly educated, skilled and essential workforce, we are seen as and treated as second class handmaidens by our management, the trust heirarchy, the government, the public and the media (just look at your recent article which may as well be titled 'should we use our degree level education and clinical skills to mop a floor instead of caring for and treating our patients'; we still get asked questions such as 'all these degrees and you are JUST a nurse?' as if we are something inferior. And what do we do to combat this image? Nothing. We are too busy bitching and moaning and stabbing each other in the back. We had a chance to stand up and fight, not only for our pensions, but our pay, our working conditions and even the future of the NHS itself, yet what did we do? Nothing. Nada. ZIp. Zilch. Absolutely f**k all!!!!

    I used to be proud to be a nurse. Not anymore. I'm glad I quit my job and found work outside of the NHS and nursing where I am better paid, looked after, have better working conditions and a work life balance, less stress and more time with my friends and family, and I am much, much better off in every way. You tell me Jenni, what is there to be proud of in a profession that allows its staff to feel that way?

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  • anon 8.42
    any jobs going?

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  • tinkerbell

    Sometimes i feel like crying when i see what is happening to OUR NHS. Seriously. I understand what everyone so far is saying and i fear the worst for our wonderful NHS which was. At first i was really angry about what is happening and could have been hired out as 'rent a rant', but now i feel it is mostly a done deal and there is nothing more to be done, at least not at this moment in time.

    We have taken our nhs for granted big time. We will deeply regret it when it is gone, deeply, we will have lost part of what was really good, ethical and compassionate about our society.

    I cannot understand how mostly everyone is still gong about their business without
    realising the dire straights we are heading towards.

    I am filled with pride when i watch programmes about nursing, currently watching '24 hours in A&E' and see the kind, caring, committed, passionate nurses and doctors about their work. I am proud when i see others dedication that i too am part of nursing.

    When i see a nurse give a patient that bit of extra time and patience at work i feel proud.

    I am and always have been proud to be a nurse. Sometimes i am still a bit stunned that i ever got to become one because i see it as a real privilege. I could have gone in so many other directions. I needed a vocation and it found me.

    I realise that everything is becoming just too much for nurses and i feel exhausted and despairing too. That also makes me sad. Lately, sometimes, instead of looking forward to going to work i go in with a sense of dread, wondering if i can survive it for just another week, year, or will there come a day when i will just resign after a particular shift from hell because i have had enough of the madness and being worked like a machine.

    When i see my collegues working full out i feel proud of them but sad too. I don't think it's right to treat people this way.

    We are only human too.



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  • If we at the sharp end of the service should feel proud, shouldn't those in power who urge restraint in pay whilst they themselves accept huge bonus payments and work towards the eventual parceling up and selling off of the NHS feel ashamed?

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  • Those in power should be ashamed of them selves taking huge chunks of money to dismantle The NHS and destroy the people working in it!!

    I have worked in The NHS for over thirty years I can not wait until I am able to retire at 55 to get away from the culture that now reigns in The NHS.

    Nasty and bullying calling it firm management!! No your just a bad manager and a bully.

    Some of the nicest people I know and the best experiences in life have come through work but some of the vilest people and worst experiences in life have come via work as well.

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  • interesting and curious how one accepts to work in an organisation and accept payment from the taxpayers but all the problems encountered are always the fault of other people! Human relationships and making systems work are up to and the duty and responsibility of each and everyone.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 11-Aug-2012 6:41 pm

    Nurses pay taxed too, does that make them self funding?

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  • that wasn't the point of the comment.

    the point was instead of taking responsibility for the problems in the NHS, which is funded by the taxpayer who also pays their salaries, people just blame everybody else for what goes wrong. they are paid to provide a service but that is incidental. blaming others and not taking responsibility for their organisation and their service are the main points!

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