A few days after the official International Nurses Day, a parade took place in Derby from the St Peters Church through the City Centre to the Cathedral. A large audience of Nurses, local dignitaries and the general public listened and participated in a service dedicated to the celebration of Nurses.
It was also an opportune moment to formally bless a new plaque to remember Florence Nightingale who spent some of her time in Derbyshire.
The profession of Nursing seems to be wrapped up unnecessarily in the political debates over the NHS, targets, and the quality of service. Despite the good work that they do, there is a sense that the influence of the poorer aspects of the profession over-shadow the many thousands of committed men and women.
During me brief stay in Hospital in March it became very obvious that the Nurses I came in contact with felt very demotivated by the “battering” that they get through the continual intimidation of the system, and the spotlight shone on them by the politicians and the media. In the UK, there are 1.3 million people employed by the NHS – sometimes things will go wrong. It does seem very disheartening that such instances are illogically extrapolated to implicate everyone else. Whether intentional or otherwise I sense that there is a small deteriorating effect.
In one conversation I had with a Nurse I reflected on the contrast with my experience at Rolls-Royce. Although a smaller organization, it had the luxury that each piece of output that they made was capable of being entirely predictable. For the 600,000 people who are treated by the Royal Derby Hospital each one will be different and unpredictable. They are not pieces of metal – they don’t behave in accordance with science. My comment was that such an organization would be incredibly difficult to manage and that for the front-line staff, of which the Nurses make a large proportion, they have to adapt, rapidly, to the needs of the patient, at the very time that the person is probably most vulnerable and least accommodating. I witnessed a number of people who were unnecessarily abusive to the Nurses on the ward – for no good reason. I can only comment on my experiences – everyone will have different stories. This particular Nurse who had been in the NHS all of her working life, just felt that they must be doing a poor job – that is all that they heard from the media and the politicians. Not achieving targets!
Nursing is a profession, a commitment, a vocation which requires an engagement with the “customer” on the most personal of levels – who else is required to do that?
It is entirely fitting that there is an International Nurses Day – I wish that it was more visible and more of a celebration – although I suspect that they may feel embarrassed by the attention. I don’t think that’s why they do the job and we should always remember that – on every day of the year.