Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Modern Nursing

I read this week that someone had recently died in hospital from infected bedsores! I cannot think of a worse indictment on the NHS than this horrendous example of poor nursing. There is just no excuse for this type of neglect and so many people have to take responsibility for the consequences but under NoLab we know that nothing will happen. In recent years there have been so many examples of poor hygiene and poor nursing practice that it is now becoming commonplace. Africa would not accept the standards in our NHS hospitals never mind the rest of Europe. It has come to the point where admittance to an NHS hospital seriously threatens your health.

Now I hold my hands up because I owe my life to the NHS. In 2001 I collapsed suddenly and subsequently had my colon and major bowel removed. Following the operation I had peritonitis which caused septicemia and so I was rather poorly and spent a week in intensive care. It never rains but it pours!

After that little lot I was in Leicester Glenfield hospital for about three months and had first hand experience of modern nursing. Now as most of us know hospital life can be really boring and I became an interested observer of life on my ward. I realised very quickly that to receive the best treatment I had to play the game. My surgeon was fantastic! He has always been fantastic and to this day I think of him as more of a friend than a surgeon. Mr Adam Scott is a modern gentleman who possesses a wonderful bedside manner and cares for his patients in the time honoured tradition of the NHS. How he does it I will never know but after him there was a problem.

The young doctors generally did not have the same dedication or attention to detail. Let me give you an example. I was due a home visit which is so precious that you cannot imagine. Every day the nurses had to record my 'functions' and at that time I was still emiting puss from my stomach wound (Sorry!. Some silly moo entered the amount of urine that I was passing in the puss column and the young doctor stopped my home visit on that pretext! He seemed amazed that I was so incensed!! If that amount of puss was coming out of my stomach then surely I was dead meat!! Not in his world he believed the entry and did not query it.

But back to the nurses who generally were more interested in their social life than the problems faced by the patients. Most nurses today routinely ignore the patient until they have to follow ward routine. They will come round with the pills or smile sweetly as they follow the surgeon around but for the rest of it one has to demand or learn how to extract attention. I was lucky because I am a bit bright and I soon learned the game but for those who cannot attract attention it must be horrendous.

On the evening that my appendix burst there were three nurses attending fifty men on male surgery. Twice I was ignored but on the third pass I leant from my bed and grabbed the wrist of the passing nurse because I knew that I was dying!! I don't know what happned next but I am alive today so I made an impression.

They are not all like that. Some of them do care what happens to their patients but I am afraid to say that they are few and far between. They are generally older and therefore more compassionate. In the nursing schools today nursing is not taught. Targets have to be met and that is the legacy of NoLab. Most recent patients will probably recognise that after surgery the nurses crowd around the reception desk with their mates and rarely enquire after the health of their patients. In one occasion after a day care operation a lady who was struggling to recover had to complain to the Staff Nurse that the staff were making so much noise that they were hindering her recovery. He apologised to the offending culprits before asking them to keep the noise down! The reduced volume lasted little more than five minutes!!

The nursing industry has to reintroduce discipline on the wards before we will ever combat disease and neglect. We must somehow reinvent nursing standards of the fifties but that means standing the world on its head. Will anyone have the guts to confront the problem? Once again I doubt it but then more old people will die and guess what? We will all get old one day.

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