It is reported today that nurses and doctors leaders are telling relatives to go into hospitals and help care for the elderly as the staff are “too busy;.

The head of the nursing union the royal college of nursing (it is a trade union and not a college as such ) has asked the college to lobby the government, and to find ways of encouraging the relatives to care for their elderly,and to lift restrictions on visiting hours,so the relatives can be there all day to help.

In places like India that is what happens, a relative is allowed to stay with the patients, nurses simply come and dispense drugs and other treatments. Most of the hands on nursing is done by un-trained relatives. But they are “relatives” and they have love for the patients,where as in the UK in the last few years, as they nurses have become highly educated, the most important part of hands on nursing has been left to the ones who are least educated in nursing skills.

The head of the RCN has also admitted this week that the nursing training has to change. Having less hands on experience and less time in the classroom! Some of us “old nurses” have been saying this for sometime and being derided for doing so by the same enthusiastic reformers and the modern nurses. But the public begs to differ. When I said something similar in a comment on the Telegraph blogs ,nearly a hundred people ticked it.

The truth is that since the advent of project 2000,when nursing became a degree course, and nurses who had Phds and Mscs in obscure subjects were regarded as best nurses, the soul of the profession died. At the time in the late 1990s when there was a shortage of junior doctors, they wanted nurses to take on more medical roles, in other words become mini doctors, They would talk with pride of the things they could now do,and it was fashionable for nurses to walk around with stethoscopes round their necks imagining themselves to be the alternative doctors! At that time the RCN was in the forefront of crowing as to how advance our nurses are!

And in his statement this week Dr Carter(a nurse),remarked that the way now a days hospitals depend on untrained,un- regulated health care assistants to provide care is a “disgrace”. Indeed it is,some of us have saying this for ages.

Before this,there were nurses who were trained for two years, and were called State Enrolled nurses, they were properly trained, regulated and provided excellent hands on care, and those who wanted to have advanced qualification trained for three years and were State registered nurses.

Now we are in a state where all our nurses are graduates and post graduate (reading  Fouccault’s theories of sexuality) and have no idea how to care for and comfort an elderly distressed patient, all because fundamental misjudgement about nursing training.

It is not good enough, it is shameful.

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