Hello lovely readers,
As you can tell from the title of this post (maybe not), the content of this post will be the first academic essay I wrote as a student nurse. One of our core modules was Professional Development and part of the homework we were set during the first term involved the question ‘Have nurses lost the ability to care?’
I don’t remember what my Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) gave me for this essay, but I thought I’d share this anyway. As part of the revamp of my blog, I have decided to share the essays and reflections I have written throughout the last three years of my nurse training. So here’s the first one!
Have nurses lost the ability to care?
The statement ‘Have nurses lost the ability to care?’ will be discussed in this essay, along with factors and evidence that implies that nurses have lost their compassion towards their patients. This essay will look at factors such as shortage of nursing staff within wards, along with the importance of communication skills in delivering care.
The Francis report which was a public inquiry and examination of what caused the failings in care between 2005 and 2009 at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust that made 290 recommendations for improvements to care (NMC, 2015) would be the most prevalent example that demonstrates how nurses may have lost the ability to care. This report highlighted the fact that patients did not receive even the ‘most basic elements of care’, were neglected and where misdiagnosis were common (The Guardian:Campbell, 2013). This inquiry not only highlighted the shortcomings of Nursing staff care towards their patients, but also those of the regulatory bodies involved. One of the underlying causes of poor care is due to the lack of ‘systematic communication of indication of serious concern’ between regulators, staff and deanery which have compromised patient care (Francis Report, 2013; p.59). This therefore suggest that poor care was also attributed to the fact that there were communication failures between different bodies of the workforce, and that it is not always the case where the nurses have lost the ability to care but the lack of action that regulatory bodies should have addressed early on were factored in the negligence of care.
A more recent case where patient safety were compromised would be the CQC’s inspection of Leicester Royal Infirmary’s A&E ward (Lintern; 2016a). Communication between regular and agency staff were highlighted as lacking where an agency nurse who did not have previous experience working at an emergency ward before was not provided proper induction of the department or when an agency nurse administered an insulin infusion to a patient without consulting a second nurse or the patient’s files (Lintern; 2016a). This clearly demonstrates that nurses may have lost the ability to care in not having proper communication skills and in turn risking the safety of the patients. This highlights the importance of handovers and simple communication between staff, even though there may be time constraints it is important nurses and even HCA’s should take the time to communicate with their colleagues in order to prevent any shortcomings in the quality of care that they provide to patients.
There are also strong evidence that suggest shortage of staff within wards have a negative effect on the quality of care Nurses are able to provide patients(Ford, 2017). In a recent survey conducted by Unison almost 63% of nurses who took part in the survey have stated that shortages in staff numbers mean that they “could not ensure safe, dignified and compassionate care.” (Ford, 2017) Furthermore, a study conducted by Ball JE, et al (2014) have shown that 86% of nurses have stated that one or more care activity has been left undone, such as developing and updating patient care plans. (Ball, et al, 2014; Ford, 2017).
This can clearly be interpreted as ‘nurses losing the ability to care’, although this can be due to the low number of available staff compromising care and safety of patients. However nurses recognise that there are time constraints associated with low staffing which clearly negatively affect their ability to provide compassionate care towards their patients; for instance being rushed or having no time to comfort patients when they need it (Ford, 2017) due to nurses’ attention and help being required elsewhere.
Smith (2013) stated that the media and press often misguiding in implying that nurses have lost the ability to care (Nursing Times). It isn’t always that nurses have lost the ability to care, as these can always be attributed to different factors that affects the way nurses interact with their patients. Janet Davies, current chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing argued that staffing levels and lack of appropriate skills mix amongst staff are causing ‘compassion fatigue’ (Brindle: The Guardian, 2017). This doesn’t necessarily show that nurses have lost the ability to care, but they do also feel frustration and stress, especially with the current political climate regarding Brexit and the future of the NHS, along with shortages of qualified nurses on wards.
In conclusion, nurses have not entirely lost their ability to care. Yes, they may experience “compassion fatigue” at times where they may seem less caring, however this is attributed to several factors that affects them massively.
Nursing &a Midwifery Council. 2015. Francis Report [Online]. Available at: https://www.nmc.org.uk/about-us/policy/position-statements/francis-report/ [Accessed: 26 April 2017]
Campbell D. 2013. Mid Staffs hospital scandal: the essential guide [Online] The Guardian. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/feb/06/mid-staffs-hospital-scandal-guide#101 [Accessed: 26 April 2017]
Francis R. 2013. Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry; Executive Summary [Online]. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20150407084003/http://www.midstaffspublicinquiry.com/sites/default/files/report/Executive%20summary.pdf Stationery Office [Accessed: 26 April 2017]
Lintern S. 2016a. CQC inspection finds safety risks in A&E. Health Service Journal 20 April 2016, p.13.
Ford, S. 2017. Risk remains from chronic lack of nurses, warns union. [Online] Nursing Times. Available at: https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/workforce/risk-remains-from-chronic-lack-of-nurses-warns-union/7017463.article [Accessed: 27 April 2017]
Ball, JE et al. ‘Care left undone’ during nursing shifts: associations with workload and perceived quality of care. BMJ Qual Saf 2014;23:116-125. Available at: http://qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/qhc/23/2/116.full.pdf [Accessed: 26 April 2017]
Brindle, D. 2017. ‘Nursing makes all the difference in healthcare’: how the job has changed. he Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2017/feb/28/nursing-makes-difference-healthcare-job-changed [Accessed: 27 April 2017]
Smith, A. 2013. The ability to recognise care is your most valuable asset. Available at: https://www.nursingtimes.net/the-ability-to-recognise-care-is-your-most-valuable-asset/5061172.article [Accessed: 26 April 2017]
Reading this essay, knowing what I know now; there are so many mistakes especially when it comes to in-text citations and the format of references. There are plenty of grammatical issues and errors throughout the essay and my conclusion is weak AF!!
Perhaps, as part of this series I should re-write my essays and see how I can improve on it – and get you (the readers) to critique my essays. Now that would be very interesting, plus if you’re a student nurse you could be practising your critical thinking skills.