Anyone who knows anyone who has had an elderly relative in a NHS hospital knows that the horror stories from West Stafford Hospital are not unique to that establishment.
Thirty odd years ago nurses where revered by all people as being angels in uniform - they were beyond criticism. How things have changed. Mention nurses now and you are likely to be inundated with stories
which reflect badly on them and their profession. So what's gone wrong?
When I spent a week in my local hospital one thing struck me. I never saw the same nurse twice. The only human 'continuity' on the ward was provided by a super lady who did the cleaning and wheeled a tea trolley round. Now I am sure it is -technically - a lot more 'efficient' to allocate nurses to different wards etc, but if you have no continuity how can you have any pride in your ward and -if you have no pride in your ward - then you will do -being a humane being - the minimum you need to get by. That -presumably - is why -at West Stafford - no one is being blamed or punished for the appalling standard of care because -to put it simply - no nurse was around long enough for any blame to stick.
So the first reform is to allocate nurses to wards as part of a team under the control of a Matron who has real powers of discipline. That way standards would rise - nurses would be accountable - and- hopefully - pride in their ward and job would rise.
The real villain though is surely the Royal College of Nursing who - over the last thirty years have presided over a profession which has fallen so far - and so fast -in the public esteem. One of the key reasons for this has to be their insistence that nursing was a 'profession' and not a 'calling' and that therefor nurses should all have university degrees. So let's throw nursing open to anyone who wants to do it providing they pass the necessary test and abolish the degree qualification.