Socialist Worker

Student Nurses - a good antidote to the hype about ‘uncaring’ nurses

by Janet Maiden
Issue No. 2390

This eight-part documentary series sets out to portray human stories of idealistic nursing students.

The first episode is filmed in Manchester and Birmingham hospitals. It features 21 year old Lisa, about to qualify as a children’s nurse, and 24 year old former carpet fitter Alistair, who’s embarking on his training as a general nurse.

He says, “You won’t save lives fitting carpets but if I can save one life, what an achievement that will be.”

Then there’s Dany, who first started her training in 1984 and now has returned to fulfil her dream. 

She says her previous job was no longer giving her any satisfaction. Now, it can sometimes be enough if just one patient is appreciative of the care she gives.

It supported my belief that every nurse starts off their career caring and wanting to make a difference.

That’s important in the light of recent bad press about “uncaring” nurses, particularly in the wake of the Mid Staffs hospital scandal.

But it misses out the dangerously low staffing levels, and the daily frustrations of waiting for porters who are not there.

It didn’t show nurses chasing blood results that are now done by privatised services, or constant bells from patients who need more time and more care than we can give.

And many nurses will sympathise with stories about knowing where the kettle is but never getting time to use it.

The programme made me pleased that I am still a nurse. I hope these students don’t get burnt out.

I hope their passion for nursing extends to understanding that the NHS is under dire  threat—and part of what we must do to give good nursing care is to fight back.

Student nurses: Bedpans and bandages, ITV1, Fridays at 8pm from 14 February

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Tue 11 Feb 2014, 16:32 GMT
Issue No. 2390
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