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This year, in the Chinese calendar, is the year of the rat.  The UN has decided, 2020 is the year of ‘Plant Health’… don’t ask!

The WHO have decided it is the year of the nurse and midwife.

Year of the nurse and midwife?  Why?  Because, it celebrates the 200th Anniversary of Florence Nightingale.

I’m not much of a fan of ‘years’, I’m more of a fan of ‘everyday’ but for those who are enjoying their special year, celebrating the success and the  contribution of their professions, the last thing they want to read is this; 

‘…  the practice of sending would-be nurses to university to gain a degree before facing the messy business of caring for seriously ill or dying patients in a hospital bed has led to a fall in standards of patient care.’

Of course, it is ignorant clap-trap.  You know it and I know it but the trouble is, it appeared in the Telegraph and despite declining sales, it is still read by 300,000+, people.

If there has been a fall in standards of patient care… if, then I think the truth is, it is entirely the result of not having enough nurses.  

Back to Sakichi Toyoda;  Why… why do we not have enough nurses?  

Pretty-well ten years of austerity funding, messing with the training bursary, catastrophic workforce-planning, HEE destroying legacy structures and knowledge, overburdening regulation, pay-caps and cuts, down-grading, aggressive employers…

The work of a nurse and a midwife emerging as pressured, stressful and not what is was.  People voting with their feet.

The antediluvian views, expressed in the paper are those of former airline pilot and government minister, Norman Tebbit.  He also thinks NHS managers should go to Sandhurst and GPs should be…

‘…equipped… with x-ray, and other medical diagnostic tools, [that] would raise the prestige of GPs, improve patient service and ease the pressure on casualty units.’

By the way, he wants to close some universities and renationalise the railways.

What are we to make all of this?  

There are three failures that have paved the way for Tebbit… first;

The Telegraph article, along with another, last week, in the £walled Times, questions NHS performance.  The story goes; 

‘… we’ve given you more money and all you’ve given us are longer waits for beds, hips, appointments and ambulances.’ 

The Times called for the Secretary of State to crack the whip.

Tebbit, the Times and others are about keeping BoJo and the Cabinet, focussed to the right of centre.  There is a Whitehall reshuffle coming.  

Hancock stood against BoJo in the leadership election.  They want him out.  Coronavirus might save him, but his record won’t.


I can’t remember seeing NHS Providers, the Confed, NAPC, the Unions, the think-tanks, nailing these two paragraphs on the front door of Number 10….  

  • The Lansley Reforms, are Tory reforms.  Austerity is Tory austerity.  Staff problems are Tory workforce policies.  The Conservatives have created their own mess, 


  • … data from the ONS shows NHS productivity for 2017 grew by 3%, more than treble the 0.8% achieved across wider the UK economy…

There’s been a failure to speak truth to power. Why?  To do so threatens their seat in the tent. So, what is their purpose? 

Third, nursing;

Tebbit’s trope; you don’t need a degree to be nurse… I hear it all the time.  From within and outside the NHS.

There’s data to show; highly qualified nursing leads to high-quality outcomes.

Others say; the global shortage of nurses means a pragmatic solution will have to be found because even the most qualified nurse cannot do the job of two, or three.

This is an excellent read from the HoC select committee…

Nurses will be outraged at Tebbit’s foolishness but outrage doesn’t solve the problem.  

Flo said;

‘What cruel mistakes are sometimes made by benevolent men and women in matters of business about which they can know nothing and think they know a great deal…’

What nurses need most, in their celebratory year, is leadership, clarity and an agreement on a future direction that benevolent men and women can understand, know about and agree.Two hundred years ago Florence had a lamp.  Who, today, has a compass?

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.