I don’t know why I let them upset me but they do.  They irritate me beyond belief.  

I’ve tried everything.  Deep breaths, counting to ten, think-calming-thoughts, relaxation, calamine tea… but they still drive me BARMY!

I’m talking about the Department of Health Press Office.

Why don’t we dump them?  We could have one of those press-button, dial yer-own-answer, premium phone lines; dial-a-quote.

Press one for; ‘The NHS has had more money than any time in the history of coinage… there is more money than ever before’.

Press two for; ‘The NHS is expected to provide more care, better care… whatever… there will be more care in the NHS than ever before.’

Press three for; ‘The NHS has commissioned a report on this and it will be published when it is published and it will address these issues, or not… there are more reports in the NHS than ever before.’

Press four; ‘Although you may think today is Thursday, actually, because yesterday was Wednesday and tomorrow is Friday, does not guarantee you have got the day of the week correct.  There are more days in the week than every before….’

… and there is the latest.  Infuriating.  But first some context from the BBC;

The NHS is “haemorrhaging” nurses with one in 10 now leaving the NHS in England each year.

More than 33,000 walked away last year, piling pressure on understaffed hospitals and community services…. a rise of 20% since 2012-13… there are now more leavers than joiners.

In up-sum: more than 10% of the nursing workforce have left the NHS in each of the past three years; leavers would be enough to staff more than 20 average-sized hospital trusts; more than half of those who walked away in the last year were under the age of 40.

Leavers outnumbered joiners by 3,000 last year.

The DH press office; what did they say?  Brace yer-self… here it is

‘There are 11,700 more nurses on our wards since 2010…’

Reach for the calculator;

11,700 in 7 years = 1,671 nurses a year

There are roughly 157 trusts; 

1,671 new nurses divided by 157 Trusts 

= 11 new nurses per Trust.

Less than one new nurse a month…

Does the Press Wallah think we are all stupid.  Can’t add up?  Is this careless or Machiavellian?  Dissembling, misleading an attempt at being smart.  Is this good ethical press management?

As the BBC say;

‘They (the DH Press office) have picked 2010 and nurses on wards.  If you look at the entire nursing workforce, the numbers have only risen by 1%… demand across health care has gone up between ten and twenty percent…’

It is the role of the DH press office, funded by the taxpayer, to be truthful, accurate, objective and impartial.  They are accountable to us all.  They are not accountable to Tory Central Office; to gift wrap, polish or present the facts sunny-side up.  We want stripped pine facts. 

And the facts are nursing is a great profession, a wonderful vocation but a rotten job.

It’s a rotten job because the DH have got the numbers wrong, training wrong, funding wrong, safe staffing wrong.  On any measure they are on the wrong side of right. 

Three days a week twelve hours a day, understaffed wards, getting through a shift with fingers crossed there isn’t a disaster.  It’s not a job it’s torture.

Car-parking charges, child care, flat-line pay increases, patients in the corridors.  No breaks.

To make ends meet a couple of shifts in a care home.  Exhausting.

All the nurses I have met love nursing.  None of them leave a job they love.  They leave management, bureaucracy, bullying, anxiety, rehearsing for CQC inspections, daft policy and unnecessary pressure.

What’s not to like about working for an agency; work the shifts you want, where you want, no management hassle.  I’m surprised the whole of the workforce isn’t agency.

Organisations get the workforce they deserve.  Nothing changes anything faster and quicker than honesty.

The Health Select Committee report on nursing next week.  Let’s hope they can find some honesty.


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