Robert Francis’s report on Mid Staffs calls for a change of culture in the NHS. But whose culture is it that needs to change?
Nursing is a tough and poorly paid job. People who choose to become nurses don’t expect to find themselves ignoring patients’ needs. But when you are rushed off your feet you can’t spend time by the bedside to chat to patients. In some hospitals it appears you don’t even have time to change soiled sheets. And you can’t be kind to a sick patient while you are ticking boxes on your iPad.
Nursing can seem a long way from the image that I absorbed from Sue Barton, Student Nurse when I was young. When my elderly mother was admitted to hospital she had a named nurse we were told to speak to about our mother’s condition. Only she never seemed to be on duty when we visited and no-one else was prepared to fill the gap. Cheerful caterers put my mum’s food on her table, and then cleared it away uneaten. She couldn’t see it, and she was too weak to lift a fork. No-one was unkind, but equally no-one seemed to see what was happening, or not happening. Yet there was no glaring deficiency that would put up red flag to the Trust Board. The Department of Health’s statistics would look fine.