The problem that consumes nurses.

NHS-nurse-002There’s a lot of news about nurses around at the moment. How they’re not well trained, how they don’t do the job properly, how they don’t care for their patients, how they are slow, how they don’t give much time to their patients, how they abuse people, how they’re rude. And now, Jeremy Hunt has decided to make sure that this doesn’t happen by introducing an extra year of basic training for nurses.

Yet, nurses don’t need more “basic training”. What they need is more outspoken support both verbally and practically¬†¬†in the job that they are called to do – to nurse. At the moment, they only get the opposite. My wife is a nurse. She works long shifts on an understaffed ward in a very difficult environment. They frequently (until the red tape of health and safety stopped them) had to raise funds by baking cakes out of their own money and selling them to provide their own equipment for their own ward. She is often hit, punched, scratched, shouted at, verbally abused by patients (though there are nice ones too!) and she has to show love and compassion at all times to them. Many of the patients are upset, angry, confused, elderly, with a¬†lot of needs. I have nurse friends who are often asked to stay late after a shift, who are asked to walk to work in heavy snow, who sometimes have to sleep in the hospital due to inadequate staff levels. Many of them are over worked, over tired and, quite frankly, underpaid and undervalued.

And how does the government thank these people who offer a ministry of healing free of charge to the British citizens?

The government thanks them by blaming them for a many of the problems in the NHS at the moment, including abuse of patients, unrealistic targets not being met as well as allowing a misrepresentation of NHS legislation and decisions (such as the¬†integrated¬†care pathway) to be published in national newspapers, making people hostile to the good work of NHS staff. Of course, the term “abuse” can mean anything in this case, from waiting times to see a GP to physical and psychological abuse done to patients by a¬†very small minority¬†of nurses that have slipped the vetting net. As far as I can see and understand, the Government makes all these fantastical statements from some office in Westminster and never sees the reality of working in an understaffed hospital with a¬†pitiful¬†budget and no support for it’s staff.

Do the nurses get a say in how their wards are run and how money should be budgeted in hospitals? Of course they don’t. How then can the government criticise nurses for not reaching unrealistic goals?

But then they’re not stopping there. No, they’re then tarring all nurses with the same brush because of supposed abuse within the NHS. Most patients, as far as I can tell, complain to the government about nurses and hospitals because of something that is beyond a nurse’s or hospital’s power. So it’s not really their fault is it? It’s the government’s.

And let’s be honest about this – you are going to be under¬†pressure¬†as a nurse if you have no breaks, long hours, not enough staff and are in most cases expected to save people’s lives. Rather than passing on the book to NHS staff, maybe the government should look into how wisely it is budgeting money and where it goes. Putting a load of untrained staff in the place of nurses is not going to give patients the level of care they need, or the level of support that nurses need. Surely they see this?

I’m no expert on healthcare, and I don’t know much about the NHS and its staff. But knowing the work that my wife and friends put into their vocation gives me enough to make a judgement that they are often overlooked and¬†ostracised¬†without good cause.

And maybe, just maybe, the general public may be to blame for the state the NHS is in. Maybe it is the public who are the ones putting unneeded stress on nurses. Getting a boob job for £4,800 on the NHS because you want to be like Katie Price is absolutely disgraceful. Especially when there are people in desperate need of operations waiting over 2 years to get them. Or what about the people who insist on smoking, eating and drinking, wasting millions on NHS treatment, being treated and then going back to their old habits only to be treated again, free of charge? And nurses are powerless to stop this ridiculous cycle continuing, because of human rights and other legislation which not only allows, but encourages an abuse of the NHS system.

It’s about time we stop grumbling about nurses and start thanking them for the good job they do. And I’d quite like to see nurses and NHS staff recognised rather than blamed¬†and criticised for issues out of their control – and published in a way that makes nurses out to be cruel and sadistic. It really angers me how the propaganda of biased media companies can turn a nation against some of the key people in our society who we¬†desperately¬†need.

Sure, I agree that there are some bad nurses out there. Just like there are bad teachers, doctors, scientists, vicars, politicians. But there’s no way that bad mouthing nurses in such a general way is going to improve the NHS, instil confidence in the staff or encourage potential and current patients to understand the current strains that the NHS is under.


Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and H√Ęf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @

  • Rebecca

    Completely agree Dean ūüôā
    Someone I know (who isn’t a nurse, but something similar) has recently been told by her manager that she is spending too much time with her patients, and the number of patients she gets through is more important than giving everyone the best care she can! I think that’s crazy. She is doing the job to the best of her ability, and often works for more hours than she is paid. The problem lies with poor management, and not enough staff!