Care and Compassion

The health Ombudsman has released a report saying that not enough is being done for elderly people in the NHS. The report has been published widely in the UK press, with many opinion pieces resulting from it.

It’s a report in that it consists of ten narratives based on ten complaints. To that end, I’m not sure it could be said to be representative of the NHS as a whole, and certainly I know of several nurses who are distressed at their good professional name being tarnished with headlines resulting from the report. I am also intrigued by the authors’ use of descriptions of patients which rests on illustrative stories from their lives, pre-hospital, as ‘proof ‘ of their worth. In fact anyone should have good care whether or not they have been interesting and/or intelligent or whether they are unpleasant or dull. I suspect that they have been included as an attempt to ‘humanise’ the stories: but there is not an equivelent narrative explaining or understanding why things went wrong from the NHS’ side.

In any large organisation such as the NHS there are going to be problems. Certainly you need to try and prevent and minimise them. What the Ombudsman does not realise it the extent to which external interference has distrupted the interaction with doctors, nurses and patients. When nurses have a new patient they have reams of risk scoring exercises to perform (DVT risk scores, fall risk scores etc) taking up time, paper and mental space. Many of these have been introduced after similar external outcries. Patients are devolved to tick box paper based exercises. The very art and practice of nursing has been reduced down so that nurses can only be promoted or progress through their career through management positions or doing routine tasks previously done by doctors. There is little official recognition of the enormous and essential value of high quality ‘shop floor’ nursing. Many ‘routine’ tasks of nurses – washing, cleaning, feeding – have been delegated to nursing assistants. Many are excellent: but the shift in what is deemed ‘valuable’ work, worth paying well for, harms patients if these tasks are seen as low skill rather than high value.

5 Responses to “Care and Compassion”

  1. Sarah Eades February 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Thank you for exactly getting to the crux of the matter. Shop floor nursing is neither valued nor rewarded and hence the obudsmans report and stories like Mid-Staffs.How sad.

  2. Mo Stewart February 22, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    Where it all started to go wrong surely was when government decided to close all schools of nursing attached to district hospitals and expect nurses to go to university. I am retired so can’t comment but, on behalf of a friend who is a senior nursing sister in charge of an obs & gynea ward, I am asked to advise that newly qualified nurses arrive on the ward ” ..with lots of academic knowlewdge from text books and a dangerous lack of nursing care experience, with many incapable of giving a bed bath. Care is suffering.” That’s why modern nurses know little about nursing care.

  3. Rich Milton February 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    As a 71 year old, it seems to me that us old people already obtain too much NHS resource not too little.

  4. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney February 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Please say you don’t mean that, Mr Milton? There is an awful lot of truly inappropriate use of the NHS going on – drinking to get drunk and fighting or knives and etc – and ‘old’ doesn’t really mean any thing any more….. you can be biologically old at 50, or young at 80; I want to work in a fair nhs which gives everyone the care they need, no matter what their age, sex, creed….

  5. stan March 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    I suppose my family and I are average “users” of the NHS ,I was born in 1948 and have lived my life knowing the NHS was there for me.
    Without doubt there are millions of good stories about peoples dealings with the NHS which are never told,the bad stories always get more news interest.
    There must be millions of people who are alive today who owe their lives to the professionals in the NHS,I for one am ever grateful to it.