I am beginning a series of pieces on health care which I hope will provoke a response form Silverlinkers. It is an important topic and one in which we will all a have a direct interest sooner or later. I am well aware that some of our readers are far more experienced in NHS matters than I but I do have experience which I consider to be relevant. I would appreciate others commenting so we can build up a picture of the views of readers.
For a large part of my career I was involved in the training and education of others. In recent years my voluntary work on one of the national Skills Councils has led me to look closely at the qualification basis underpinning the industry with which I was most closely involved. I felt there was always a balance to be struck between a desire to improve skills and knowledge and the need to ensure that a higher qualification base does not work against those talented individuals who have a gift but not the means or circumstances to pursue higher qualifications and who may be lost to the service if it becomes too prescriptive.
I believe one such employment sector is nursing. None of us can deny the patient advantages that can flow from a highly qualified nurse that has all the latest information on drugs, treatments and clinical management. However, when you are profoundly unwell lying in your hospital bed all you want is the confidence to know that the technical aspects of your illness are being well managed in the background but most importantly that your hourly needs are been dealt with efficiently and with care and sympathy.
There has been a lot of publicity surrounding the recent failures of care at Stafford hospital and quite rightly. I cannot imagine the misery that flows from such treatment, not just for the patient but also their relatives. As somebody that throughout my career was unable to walk past anything in the organisations that I worked for, that wasn't right I ask myself how could any care or nursing member of staff accept what was happening. Unfortunately Stafford was not an isolated incident.
I am left wondering if we have lost something in the care sector which encouraged and nurtured the vocational nurse who's primary interest in the profession was to provide care for others. They were often the kind of nurse who was not interested in getting a degree and indeed maybe without the academic skills to do so. Such people have been driven down to the level of care assistant as degree level nurses do not necessarily see their qualifications as consistent with the demands of the personal care of their patients. This has effectively demoted the role of personal care and therefore the influence of those providing it. Something must change and quickly. I would start by making nursing a dual profession, care and clinical, each carrying equal status.