Melanie Reid, who writes a regular Notebook for The Times has highlighted the complex role of the modern day nurse in the NHS:
“Ten days ago (7th October), the nurse Pauline Cafferkey had to be readmitted to hospital, thankfully not with a reoccurance of Ebola but apparently suffering from yet another debilitating side-effect of the disease she caught saving lives in Africa.
With her heroism in mind, I attended an NHS training day last week as a “patient story” (Melanie broke her spine in a riding accident) to help nurses to improve best practice. I was happy to participate because nurses are so imprisoned by regulation, protocol and fear of getting into trouble that they need all the support they can get to remain human.
It’s a very hard job, modern nursing. What was always essentially a menial, messy, life-saving responsibility is now also a minefield of procedure, accountability and scarce resources. The soft skills of nursing – the ability to smile, introduce yourself, show compassion and communicate – are being crushed.
If circumstances merited it, I told the nurses, bend the protocol. Deviate from process. Within reason, of course. Use your instinct and common sense. Act as if the patients were members of your family. Show warmth and caring and customers won’t complain.
The area’s chief nursing officer was there and agreed. But re-empowering nurses only works if the myriad of middle managers also get the message. And that’s a whole different level of culture change. Cafferkey, hauled through a grotesque misconduct hearing by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, knows that.”
Nurses, particularly those specialising in menopause, are crucial to the services offered by WHC and the BMS. Please support them by donating to our Four Seasons Appeal and by telling us your stories of the unsung and heroic work undertaken by nurses.