About Me

Larbert, Scotland, United Kingdom

Monday, October 22, 2007

Are nurses the problem?

As the dust settles on the C.diff argument down in Kent, and the Government, opposition and patients join up in the "Something must be done" lobby, the Spectator (not a magazine I normally read, but I left my book at Mum & Dad's and had a long train journey yesterday) had a comment piece by Charles Moore (formerly Editor of the Daily Telegraph). Mr Moore is clearly (as the Spectator is) slightly to the right of Centre in Politics (rather like some of my blog readers).

I quote part of his comment column below - I think his opinions are harsh, but have some justification, which I will explain below.

Charles Moore in the Spectator wrote:
Perhaps you cannot blame the media for hounding James Lee, the chairman of the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospital trust, who has resigned after the deaths from C.difficile. But it is nevertheless possible that he is right — that central government denies power to the board and subjects the executives to ludicrous micro-management. He tried to be fair, but he said, in effect, that lots of nurses are useless and very little can be done to improve or get rid of them. This is visibly true. Far from being the ‘angels’ of popular mythology, nurses have become too grand and ‘professional’ to make sure that patients are healthy. They have actually killed people. If they were bus drivers or building workers, they would have been sacked. But because they work for the sacred NHS, the media considers them beyond criticism.
Well it is a tricky case. The nurses are the victims of nu Labour as much as Junior Doctors are. Over the past 10 years, more have degrees, and are being trained further into areas such as being Nurse Practicioners, and prescribing. These areas tend to occupy some of the space left by the reduction in Junior Doctor's working hours. Hence they are now operating at a higher level than they did before.

The problem is that there are fewer auxilliaries than before, and thus a gap has opened at the bottom of the scale. If there are fewer nurses to help clean up patients, and fewer auxilliaries (or Healthcare Assistants) to help with personal care, and fewer cleaners to clean the wards, and fewer matrons to check on the cleaning, then the current situation of dirty hospitals happen.

My Mum (who used to be in charge of domestic cleaning services for a large teaching hospital) was commenting at the weekend that she had heard an Interview with Aggie McKenzie (from How Clean is your House) where the presenter had asked Aggie "Do you think Alan Johnson's idea of doing an intensive clean of hospitals will help?" Her reply was along the lines of "Until the first visitors come in, and the first dirt enters the building, until the first patient soils a bed, or there is a spillage. "

Basically a one-off blast clean will work for a short time.However, spending the same amount on cleaners to clean the Wards properly, including additional staff to deal with spills etc, and having cleaning cover morning til night 7 days a week, in addition to visitor and staff hand washing etc will be the only way to clean up hospitals long term. As my Mum said "I have yet to see a government initiative clean a floor".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was a little annoyed when the chairman resigned, I mean is that really going to change anything? Perhaps facing up to responsibility is more important, hell he probably had a near impossible job anyways.

We had to do this gay interprofessional education thing on MRSA handwashing, needless to say there were some albeit student nurses with completely unfounded views that doctors were to blame as they were ignorant untowards nurses!