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Nursing must look 'in the mirror' to address care failings, CNO

  • 15 Comments

The nursing profession needs to “hold a mirror” up to itself if it is to address failings in care like those recently highlighted by the health service ombudsman, Dame Christine Beasley has warned.

In a wide-ranging speech to the Nursing Times Summit in Berkshire this week, Dame Christine said: “There is a whole range of things where we can say we have made a difference, and we have.

“However, I think we will fail ourselves if we don’t hold up the mirror and say we are not getting it right all the time. It isn’t just a few people [responsible for poor care].”

Talking about the “fiscal challenge” faced by the NHS, she told conference delegates the health service was starting from a much better position than in the previous recession of the late 80s and early 90s when she said staffing levels were “disastrous”.

She said: “I remember talking to staff nurses and consultants [in the 80s and 90s] who could not take it anymore because every day they knew that the care they were giving was substandard.”

Health secretary Andrew Lansley told Nursing Times last week that understaffing was “no excuse” for care failings categorised as “never events”.

Dame Christine talked about the importance of redesigning services to reduce posts, rather than just putting a “red line” through the most expensive members of staff, such as specialist nurses.

She predicted the new workforce would have to be made up of “different types of staff” and said it was essential to involve frontline staff in planning any changes, even it was time consuming.

Pointing to plans to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors over the next four years as one area where the health workforce was expected to grow, Dame Christine warned it would be a “tragedy” if the service did not improve as a result.

Although she said she sympathised with the low morale of some health visitors, she told delegates it would be a “tragedy” if their negative attitude influenced new recruits.

In the same speech, Ms Beasley set out the future of the chief nursing officer role in England, confirming it will be split into two senior posts.

A chief nursing officer will sit on the NHS Commissioning Board – the national body which will oversee the NHS on behalf of the government – and there will be a director of nursing in the Department of Health with a greater public health focus.

Dame Christine added that she would be delaying her retirement – originally planned for this month – till October in order to oversee the changes. She will go part time from the end of March until October, doing two and a half days a week and working flexibly.

Referring to the need for nursing leadership throughout the healthcare system she told delegates that while the battle for nurse leadership had been won on the provider side, there was still “a way to go on the commissioning side”.

  • 15 Comments

Readers' comments (15)

  • I am but a pawn but I can hold my head up and say that every single shift I work as hard as I can and to the best of my ability to give the best patient care that I can. I have never had a day off sick since I qualified 18 months ago. Time after time the Kings and Queens of Management get it wrong and nurses on the ward get the blame because we did not raise concerns loudly or long enough (too busy caring for the huge numbers of patients). Get your heads out of your spreadsheets. Get off your backsides. Get out of your offices. Get down to the wards and see for yourselves what is happening! Do not expect me to both your job and mine!

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  • this is just the problem, even if you know you have done your very best and followed everything to the letter, you only judged as good as the rest of the bad eggs in the team.
    Your hands are often tied behind your back leaving you without power to make any changes. You voice your opinions, and try using influence, but you can never force another, who is unwilling, to listen!

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  • I am but a pawn but I can hold my head up and say that every single shift I work as hard as I can and to the best of my ability to give the best patient care that I can. I have never had a day off sick since I qualified 18 months ago. Time after time the Kings and Queens of Management get it wrong and nurses on the ward get the blame because we did not raise concerns loudly or long enough (too busy caring for the huge numbers of patients). Get your heads out of your spreadsheets. Get off your backsides. Get out of your offices. Get down to the wards and see for yourselves what is happening! Do not expect me to both your job and mine!

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  • Our glorious leader addresses us again. I particularly enjoyed this paragraph:

    “I remember talking to staff nurses and consultants [in the 80s and 90s] who could not take it anymore because every day they knew that the care they were giving was substandard.”

    Therein lies the problem: the 80’s and the 90’s are probably the last time this bloated desk-jockey actually had a conversation with a real nurse; she's clueless as to what nurses are putting up with on a daily basis. I find her comments extremely offensive. Although I take comfort in the fact that she is selflessly chaining herself to her desk until October to “oversee the changes” although I think it probably has more to do with accruing full years in her pension - who said that?

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  • i think those on the panel should if they are not in front line nursing jobs come onto the wards not just for a visit, but to do a full shift and not for a day but for a full week. Go a full week with minimal breaks, being told off for not answering buzzers quickly enough and being told by andrew lansley that your a c**p nurse. i dont think these people including andrew would last a full shift let alone a week and if its just bad time management then i'm willing to be shown personally by them how to answer 14 buzzers all at same time while doing 6 1/2hrly obs and 8 lots of IVA's.

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  • Exactly- hit the nail on the head-the truth is that NHS overwhelmed by self serving mid management and is what is wrong with the service. Please, please stop costing lives by looking in the mirror yourselves. Ask yourselves can you justify your salary? I know how to nurse people, I know when I look in the mirror that I have always done as much as I possibly can to ensure my patients are safely cared for. Please just give us the equipment we need to provide that care. I know which members of staff I can thank for ensuring patients get the care they justifiably need.

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  • Oh & almost forgot, (must be tiredness) we now have to work extra unpaid shifts to cover our breaks(!!?) do you?

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  • What a mess we are in, as in 'The NHS', once to be proud of. The present government want privatisation, providing tiered systems, and the ones we rely on for support are blaming us on the wards for not providing the right care for patients. At nearly 60, 38 years in nursing and 4 years since I worked on a ward. I feel I couldn't hack it to go back for my own health and sanity (band 6 research nurse now, just in case you wondered). ...and Health Visitors are being blamed, in advance, for any negative attitude affecting new recruits, wonderful, isn't it? My bones and joints are letting me down from all the heavy moving and handling (with and without equipment, the latter especially in the former years). Who cares? No-one, we are the baby-boom too to top it all, and there are going to be fewer beds and staff to care for us, should we need it. When will they learn to make long term plans, not quick fixes, that applies to goverment and NHS management. Life shouldn't be so complicated, but then it supplies managers with jobs and bonuses. My consolation is my memories of the NHS in less complicated times, with time to care, even with only 3 staff on a shift maximum. I could vote for Dame Christine Beasley to go, but fear (how we are controlled) says who will succeed her?

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  • this is not the first time Ms Beasley has made offensive remarks such as these so it makes me wonder, like previous messages here, just who does she speak to and when. It is well recognised that a lot of us are due to retire in the next few years and a lot of us , myself included, will have ill health for our retirement years as a result of working in a system that has abused our generosity and good will, without the training in former years and equipment to do the job. The management might then just wake up and realise how good we were to them and our patients but is that a pig I see flying by the window! But I too can hold my head up and say I have done my very best and have always put my patients first and sometimes to the detriment of my family life (I am very lucky to have such a tolerant husband).

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  • I get a bit tired reading the same old ananymous "manager bashing" at the back of every article. You obviously are unaware that a lot of managers are put under enormous stress, struggle to fit in their workload, regularly work longer hours for no pay, come in at the weekend for no pay and feel that they are cleaning up every one elses cr*p on a daily basis. Sound familiar???? I am a manger and I see myself as a nurse first and foremeost and I am on my wards more than once on a daily basis. Yes wards are busy but please save me the constant carping that it is the managers fault. Do you think it was all sunshine and roses when we were Staff Nurses? The truth is nursing is a very stressful profession but it is also rewarding or else none of us would be doing it.

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