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RCN president calls on nurses to expose colleagues that give profession ‘bad name’


The Royal College of Nursing’s president has called for good nurses to “stand up and expose” those colleagues who give their profession a bad name.

Speaking to the RCN’s annual congress in Liverpool yesterday, Andrea Spyropolous said: “No matter now much we might like to think otherwise, there are some people in this profession who shouldn’t be.

“They are a very small number and might not be in every hospital or clinical setting, but there are nurses who just don’t deliver good care,” she said in the first keynote speech of the conference.

“It’s these people who give us all a bad name.”

Ms Spyropolous continued: “It’s up to us, as the nurses who do deliver good care, to stand up and expose these individuals, because if we don’t, no one will.”

But she also cited an RCN survey of its members from February this year, which found that 80% of respondents said inadequate staffing could be compromising care in their workplaces on a weekly or even daily basis.

“How are we, as nurses, meant to deliver good care without good staffing?” she asked. “My message is clear: you do not get high quality care on the cheap.

“Something has to give, and poor staffing means that the ‘art of nursing’ becomes the ‘art of what is possible’.”

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Oh dear, someone else has joined the list of people telling nurses to ‘stand up and expose’ nurses who are not up to the job.
    Here we go again.
    Why don’t these good people stop and wonder why nurses don’t take that action? Why hasn’t anyone in the employment research areas stopped to look at just why it doesn’t happen?
    Why doesn’t someone look at the figures for suspended nurses, health visitors and midwives? Yes, some will be rightly suspended. Their colleagues have flagged up concerns and managers have acted appropriately.
    It is the ‘toxic’ organisations, that cost patients’ lives, who silence staff who dare to speak out, where the poorly performing nurses are protected.
    Sadly the unions, especially the nurses’ union itself, the RCN, have refused to look into this matter. They have refused to set up a specialist unit to deal with the suspensions that are unnecessary, even unlawful. The quality of the fulltime officers is very variable and as far as we know, they NEVER seem to ask for feedback regarding the service they have provided and how it can be improved.
    We know at CAUSE (Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspensions and Exclusions UK) that there are exceptions to this – thankfully.
    Sort out the managers, make them accountable, make them report suspensions and then nurses, midwives and health visitors may start to risk speaking out.
    Julie Fagan, founder member CAUSE

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  • I am not sure that the support network is there for people to be able to speak out against poor practice in some situations, and this is perhaps why people are afraid to do so. I think that this needs to be addressed first. I also feel that this rhetoric could be quite harmful, as some would see it as an invitation to besmirch someone's name simply because they don't like them. Only when adequate support networks are in place for those doing the whistle blowing, and for those being "exposed" will this concept be fully effective.
    I also believe that those of us who do work hard in order to maintain the good name of the NHS and nursing should continue in our efforts, that way we should be able to 'out weigh' the bad with the good.

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  • Instead of witch hunting indivduals, and trying to get us to fight amongst ourselves, why doesn't the RCN get off its arse (and yes, that is directed at Carter and Spyropolous et al,) and root out the TRUE causes of poor patient care, ie toxic organisations, poor and dangerous staffing levels, etc etc. DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM FIRST, AND THEN LOOK TO BLAME INDIVIDUAL NURSES!!!!!!!!!!

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  • O Mike im beginning to love you, lol. RCN he has a point. Is it right that a nurse shouts at a patient down the corridor? but then why is she shouting? maybe it is because the ward is so short staffed she has no option and needs to protect a patient to prevent harm, not because they are uncaring and cant be bothered, so yes, lets sort out the reasons for poor patient care before looking to blame and shame individual nurses.

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  • Easy to say that good nurses should expose colleagues who give the profession a bad name. Easier said than done I wonder who you can complain to when colleagues have friends in high places eg managers etc

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  • I spend my shift running around chasing my tail. I would love to spend my time on the ward doing just nursing care (as I was trained) but am constantly interupted eg social workers, requests for CHCs, rapid discharge requests, admissions, discharges, relatives, PAPERWORK! yet another audit for risk assessments. How nursing has changed, then another negative comment from RCN president. Nurses want to give good quality care but are stopped all the time due to no fault of their own When will managers not on the shop floor see this.

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  • Seems an easy target to me, no mention of how people come to be allegedly giving less than acceptable care or the lack of support from management and trusts.
    I really hope the president had more to say on the matter than what is printed and implied here, I'll have a listen to the archive speech.

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  • Anonymous | 14-Apr-2011 9:46 pm don't hold your breath.

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