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“Inspiring nursing acts as an antidote to bad media coverage”


Two contrasting events occurred this month. Both stirred my emotions. More NHS bad news was splashed all over the media. On the front page of The Guardian, “Hospital faces claim of cancer care cover-up. Police considering allegations that delays to treatment put lives at risk”. Despite living and working over a hundred miles from Colchester I was upset. As an NHS nurse, I felt connected to the allegations of poor care.

Sadly, it is possible to imagine the pressures on staff in Essex. Once again the NHS, an organisation that I am immensely proud to work for and trust to deliver timely, excellent care to me should I require it, was under the media spotlight for the wrong reasons.

Later, in my tray at work there was an envelope, obviously containing a card. My first reaction was “surely not a Christmas card in the first week of November?” Inside the envelope was a card from a former patient saying: “I just wanted to say thank you for all the care that you and your colleagues gave to me when I was first diagnosed with HIV back in 2003. I [have] reached a small personal milestone… It is now 10 years since my diagnosis. Looking back I appreciate how important the support and information that you gave me was, particularly in those crucial early stages.

“You empowered me to take control and inspired me to have a positive mental attitude towards my status as a gay man living with HIV.”

I share this, not to blow my own trumpet, nor even that of the service that I work in. It represents the satisfaction experienced, but not always articulated, by patients and users of public health services. Every day, throughout the NHS there are patients being empowered and inspired to live positively by nurses and others. Hundreds and thousands of them. It’s just that the media isn’t reporting this, so the public doesn’t generally hear about it.

I worry that the media’s tendency to give prominence to bad news overshadows the multiple unreported good news stories, presenting the public with a distorted picture and undermining confidence in the care provided in many of their local NHS services.

When hearing bad news stories it is important for nurses not to be downhearted and to keep striving to deliver timely, excellent care as so many do, day in, day out, year after year. It might not be headline news, but word of mouth may be quietly spreading the good news that patients and service users are often immensely satisfied with the care that they have received or witnessed.

Nursing in the health service is a privilege and a pleasure. Every one of us has the power to “do good” in our own corners of the NHS. Let’s keep on doing good wherever we work, believing that empowering, inspiring nursing care acts as a daily antidote to the critical storm that sometimes rails around us and our patients.

Martin Jones is clinical nurse specialist HIV at East Sussex Healthcare Trust


Readers' comments (6)

  • Most wards and departments are swamped with "Thank you" cards/ letters.

    Time these were counted and put into the Public domain.

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  • The only 'inspiring act' that will do any good is for the nurses of this country to strike and once and for all halt the NHS carnage created by this government.

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  • The problem is good care cannot be sensationalised and doesn't sell newspapers!

    The press has done it's fair share, along with the Con Dems, to bring down the public opinion of the NHS by their handling of some issues.

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  • ScotNurse

    The Daily Mail is another example of a 'newspaper' that delivers an incredibly distorted view of the NHS. Their website runs 2 or 3 articles almost daily with negative, damaging articles often bordering on dangerous misinformation. Despite being littered with inaccuracies. The disturbing thing is that the public lap it up and agree with and elaborate on the criticism. It's utterly futile trying to post a comment in defence as it either won't get printed as it would undermine the 'story' or it will be overwhelmingly 'red-arrowed' indicating disagreement.
    It's deflating. DM readers in the medical profession will know exactly what I'm talking about!

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  • Martin  Jones

    Today's Guardian has a fight back on its front page Call to end bash-the-NHS culture:

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  • ScotNurse | 5-Dec-2013 3:17 am

    never mind. nice logo!

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