Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


'Skateboards will be needed to deliver hourly ward rounds'


Every newspaper I have seen over the past two weeks appears to be giving away a fitness guide, with names such as Think Your Way Fit, Olympic Fitness for the Over-40s and Fifteen Ways to Fit Into Last Year’s Pants. Nursing Times isn’t planning such a supplement, they are too busy doing nursing stuff, so I offer my own personal guide to wellbeing.

I weighed myself a week or so ago and I found that I was seven pounds heavier than I should be. I dealt with this quickly and efficiently and I simply changed my mind about how heavy I should be. Who is to say that my ideal weight is 14st 10lb, just because I have been that weight for two or three decades? My ideal weight is now 15st 3lb, so well done me and give me that past-the-use-by-date Toblerone.

Reframing a problem to stop it being a problem is an age-old political technique, isn’t it? Sometimes it is obvious, for example when the Thatcher government changed the unemployment figures by not counting people who were under 23.

Other times it is more subtle, like when David Cameron offers up an initiative that at once blames nursing for any crisis of care in the health service and gives nurses more to do without any additional resources, investment or support, while making it look as though he both cares about the problem and has come up with a solution. One can imagine the boys back at HQ were very proud of that one.

Now, of course, one should be careful before dismissing any form of attention drawn to something as important as a failure to care. However, one should also be careful not to take too seriously what amounts to PR nonsense without putting it into some sort of context.

For me, there are two problems with the prime minister’s suggestions for hourly ward rounds, a vague suggestion to look at cutting red tape and implementing Productive Ward.

The first and most screamingly obvious is that, without resources, hourly ward rounds become simply another task - another piece of red tape in fact given that someone, somewhere, is going to have to eventually demonstrate that hourly ward rounds take place. At best, it will require an already-stretched nursing team to speed round the ward on skateboards ticking off names.

At a time when the NHS is being squeezed and services are at crisis point, a vague piece of mechanics and some patronising words are frankly silly.

The second problem is the assumption - and politicians and commentators of all hues make this mistake - that giving care is something that will happen if nurses (the silly, forgetful little dears) are simply prompted to do it.

The ability to offer genuine, consistent, skilled and appropriate care to all patients takes more than just an afterthought. While it requires skill, resources and time, it also requires resilience, replenishment, educational investment, emotional labour and well-articulated cultural values as well as some space in every continuing professional development budget in the country.

Care giving, if we are genuinely going to address it, requires thought and investment - and I don’t mean financial investment here but political, clinical, intellectual and ideological investment. It requires a change in thinking, and renourishing nursing staff, not more spin. Anything less amounts to an excuse to do nothing, or a way of avoiding a complex and profound problem that might be too hard to address genuinely.

Mark Radcliffe is a senior lecturer and author of Gabriel’s Angel.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Hourly rounds - does that mean I will not have to answer the phone, speak to relatives, liase with MDT, administer my drugs including mixing and giving my IV's, go for blood for the transfusions, record TPR, dress my leg ulcers, do my writing, admit my patients, sort out my discharges, etc etc. I have ten patients to nurse mostly dependant if I started at patient 1 when I get to patient 10 it is time to go to patient 1 again.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 21-Jan-2012 2:51 pm

    keep up the rounds. you are exonerated from all your other duties!

    this could be the nursing of the future but then there might be a few complaints that the other duties have been neglected.

    actually if we only did rounds it would be a good excuse to reduce salaries and length of training.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • we had a scooter in one clinic I worked in as the corridors were so long. it had a basket on the front for the drug round.

    in another clinic I worked in we had bicycles for the kilometers of underground tunnels.

    with these modes of transport you can get your work done faster and more efficiently.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.