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

The media must stop attacking the profession

  • 22 Comments

This week being a nurse has been tougher than ever.

And whenever I have told anyone what I do for a living in the past few days, their reaction has been the
same. What do I think about Violetta Aylward, the nurse splashed all over the papers for turning off tetraplegicpatient Jamie Merrett’s ventilator. Of course, my answer is that such cases are upsetting and tragic, and the profession must act to ensure these are never repeated.

It’s right that such terrible mistakes get flagged up, and that we learn from them. And the lessons for the
nursing profession are clear. They are about the importance of proper training, correct skill deployment, recruitment, and, of course, the need for a regulator to watch over us all.

But that demand to educate and inform doesn’t seem to be what’s feeding most of the papers’ coverage of these events. Of course, I know a shocking story is what sells papers. There is something sensational about a nurse - someone employed in a position of care - who gets it wrong. The fall from grace is irresistible to many journalists.

Last week’s issue of Nursing Times covered the image of nursing, and the public’s lack of appreciation of the skills and knowledge required to enter the profession and rise through the ranks.

Two NHS trusts had done some research, which revealed that the public feel nursing is menial, lowly ranked and poorly paid, with entrants not typically portrayed as demonstrating ambition or intelligence.

Sensational media coverage of cases such as Aylward’s will do nothing to elevate the image, and will only deter more bright stars from considering nursing as a career. And of course, those papers that paint nurses as evil will be the same ones bemoaning the dangers of falling nursing numbers.

The public need to know when mistakes are made, but the media also needs to balance that with showing just how many nurses are getting it right, day after day, saving lives and doing a phenomenal job, otherwise the profession will never attract the right candidates to follow in their footsteps. And then the papers will have
no end of stories to fill their pages.

  • 22 Comments

Readers' comments (22)

  • I really want to touch on this as I do feel that the nursing image is being tarnished when you have incidents such as Jamie Merrett's occuring.

    We do want nurses to be medically skilled, to deliver safe, effective care and to do it with compassion and understanding of the patient. In hospital settings, staff often have a huge workload, which must be incredibly stressful.
    When a nurse works as an agency worker, they are often placed in situations where they are a stranger to the receiver of care and sometimes the equpiment or regime and this means that those nurses have to have exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to 'think on their feet'. You might say that this is a skill that nurses should have anyway. It is a life decision to nurse. More of a vocation than a career, perhaps?

    For me, it comes back to this simple point: With all the safeguards, CQC, Care Standards Act, NMC's Code and goodness knows how much other frameworks and policy documentation there is, Jamie is still brain damaged.

    It isn't about nurses. It's about our society's attitude towards care. There is money to be made and I strongly believe that sometimes it's more about profit than patients and whilst that is still the case, our care system will remain problematic.
    KR

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • SADLY IT IS ALL OF THE ABOVE BUT IS ALSO ABOUT NURSE S SETTING STANDARDS WHEN PATIENTS GO INTO A CARE SETTING PERSONAL EXPERIENCE SHOWS THAT THAT IS SADLY LACKING AND NO AMOUT OF MONEY CAN EXCUSE A SOILED PATIENT. HUNGRY PATIENT I COULD GO ON BUT I AM SURE WE HAVE VERY SADLY ALL EXPERIENCED SIMILAR, NO WONDER PUBLIC AWARENESS OF NURSING APPEARS TO BE AT AN ALL TIME LOW WE NEED TO INSTILL CONFIDENCE BY DOING AND STOP MOANING

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • my relative is employed by a 'nursing 'agency she is unskilled ahs NO nusing experience yet on her second day was asked to look after several patients in their own homes unsupervised. Some of the clients she had never met.
    She brought this up with the manager, how was 20yrs old with little nursing experience.The following weeks she was allocated only 2 shifts(still unsupervised)
    Where does the buck stop if my relative had made an error ? she may have found herself in Violetta's shoes.Who is regulating these nursing agencies??????

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree with all of the above and saddened by the person who is being exploited by a nursing agency. Stop the media bashing nurses? Yes, if unjustified but if justified then embarrassing the government, universities for passing some incompetent nurses and PCT's etc is a good thing and should not be stopped.

    Respect is earned and is not an absolute right for all professions and those nurses who let us down, damage those of us who do deserve and gain respect by being truly professional.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Directed at title.

    Nice idea but aint gonna happen anytime soon I don't think.

    I HOPE I am wrong. I do.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Thing is, where there's money to be made morals, boundaries and ethics become more fluid and less anchored. Same in the NHS at the moment and wholesale privatisation. As a staff/workforce we have a voice however the most influential voice is the voter. This needs the public to stand up and say no! too.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As an experienced NHS and Agency nurse ( yes l do manage to do both!) Agency allows me to continue to afford to be in the NHS, l appreciate the difficulties experienced by agency staff. However, that is no excuse for agencies putting staff in compromising positions. Having said that, staff should recognise their own limitations and act accordingly. Mistakes and errors sadly do happen, in both the NHS and Private sector, the difference being that in the NHS we have a colossal back up of other staff around us, in the private ( agency ) setting one is usually alone. Only highly experienced staff should be working in this sector, and should be vetted as such. Before l go to a new client in the private sector, l want to know everything about them , routines and grill the agency, so that hopefully there are no rude surprises!!!

    I feel tremendously for this poor nurse who may end up being struck off for her error. The question we all have to ask ourselves is, are we infallible, do we never make mistakes? If yes, then l will personally come and shine your halo for you, but seriously, to err is human, to forgive is divine and l for one support my colleagues wholeheartedly in these very difficult times of nursing.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I would not dare to start having a go at nurses being one myself however people are missing the point there are some mistakes that are ireversable and fatal consequences occur. People will by the papers that appear to bash the nurse why? because people are scared they could be in Jamie's position one day. We must be honest some nurses will accept shifts knowing they do not have the experince or is qualified enough to take on particular roles. Several times having had to get bank/agency nurses in to cover shifts then to have to contact said bank/agency office to request certain staff are not to sent to the wards again as they were more a danger to the patient than theillness the patient is experiencing. Therefore this Jamie incident should be a lesson for all of us including those senior Managers/accountants who sit in remote offices deciding how to save money but have no idea what happens on the frontline on a daily basis.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am glad somebody else, above, feels empathy for the nurse involved in this unfortunate ? error / accident and is able to recognise that everybody can and does make mistakes. from experience on my wards i have learned that those who are unjustifiably critical are usually those who try to cover up their mistakes and refuse to learn from them but they can usually be seen through and are not as clever as they think.

    I think judgement on this nurse and pointing the finger at the others involved should be reserved until the full story has been revealed. until then nobody is in a position to make such judgements and I am shocked at the attitudes of the nursing and supposedly caring profession towards a colleague they do not know when they are not in possession of all the facts.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • continuation of the above as there is no edit facility on this site ....

    I also believe that this case should be highlighted without delay and questions raised and the event commented on and debated so that lessons can be learned in order to prevent further serious accidents of this nature but disagree with the sensational way it was handled in the media and some of the immature, emotional and derrogatory comments which follow the articles.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

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.