It’s happening again – the overly “academic” training of nurses is being blamed for the development of a compassion-less culture in the NHS. Cameron was at it back in 2010 and in January this year, the Daily Telegraph was trumpeting that a report from the NHS Futures Forum “adds to growing concerns that nurses’ training has become too academic to prepare students properly for the realities of the job and makes them less willing to carry out practical care.” (Although, if you read the FF’s report it actually says no such thing).
And now, in the wake of the Kane Gorny dehydration scandal the airwaves are alive with carping Tories and self-appointed “patients representatives” complaining that nurses don’t need to be graduates – they just need to be caring and compassionate. (Preferably on a lower wage, you can’t help thinking…)
Arguing that patient safety and the quality of care can be improved by downgrading the training and education of clinicians seems at best perverse and at worst downright daft. Like responding to a series of air crashes by demanding that pilots stop going to all that silly flight school malarkey and just get some real hands-on experience with a provisional licence.
So what is it about the political right and their problem with educated nurses? Is it all simply a shabby 21st century re-run of the gender-based prejudice observed and described by that dangerous Victorian radical Florence Nightingale?
“A woman cannot live in the light of intellect. Society forbids it. Those conventional frivolities, which are called her ‘duties’, forbid it. Her ‘domestic duties’, high-sounding words, which, for the most part, are but bad habits (which she has not the courage to enfranchise herself from, the strength to break through), forbid it.”