Friday, 14 December 2012

Uncaring nurses - two words that should never go together

MP Ann Clwyd condemned "indifference and contempt" of some NHS nursing staff, in an article for the BBC News after treatment received by her late husband at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

The article is very much aimed at nursing staff and how they can be uncaring and disrespectful, especially when treating older patients', however I think this is somewhat unfair, since we are all aware that nurses are overworked and often in charge of up to 5 (daytime) highly demanding patients and up to 7 at night.

I do believe that the fault lies with 'those in power', who changed the nursing profession from a compassion and 'work your way up' system, to one of University entry only. You cannot teach compassion. You also cannot teach respect.

The current degree route for nursing requires placement, hands on - on the ward, as well as theory, that is classroom based lectures. The percentage of each seems to change frequently, I believe it is currently only 1 week of theory to 8 weeks hands on.

Nursing students are provided with a mentor who oversees their learning and ensures they get to tick every box necessary to continue on to the following years' education. If a student is not competent at a certain task, they can receive further training, either on ward or in a classroom environment with use of dummies, in order to pass.

There is no denying that nursing students will receive all the necessary training and be skilled with the content of the degree course, however, how do you ensure the students have the appropriate personal skills, and then teach them if they're lacking? Can you really expect a grade A student to be a good nurse even if they refer to all patients as 'mate' or have no bedside manner?

Is it a package deal?

I think so. I do not think a nurse can be fully competant unless he/she is able to put patients at ease and offer support and compassion to their family and/or friends.

Being in hospital can be very lonely, and can leave you feeling hopeless, isolated, institutionalised. The only people around you are the other patients, who may or may not be compos mentis, or the nursing staff. We all need a friendly face, especially when we're not feeling at our best.

Do you have any personal experiences of nurses? Good or bad? Please share.

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