The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Labours employment legislation responsible for poor standards of care in hospitals
Posted Thursday, 27 August 2009 at 12:55

The Report published this morning by the Patients Association, which highlights the appalling standards of care received by some patients across the UK does not make news for many of us.


Shortly before I became an MP, I visited my own granddad in hospital to find him sat in a hard chair, naked from the waist down and blue from the cold with a freezing untouched plate of food next to him.


The patient in the next bed, Joe, told me he had been sat there since he had been got out of bed that morning – it was 8pm at night and the food had been sat there since midday. Joe had tried to get him back into bed and to give him a drink but had been told off by the nurse; apparently by the same nurse who had hauled my tiny seven stone granddad out of bed by one arm that morning, the finger marks clearly visible.


I approached the nurse’s station with care, the very same nurse’s station I had once sat at when writing my own patient Kardex after a mornings work. I asked would it be possible for someone to help me put my granddad back into bed and to get him a warm drink?


I was met with a ‘couldn’t care less who the hell do you think you are back off now’ stare.


I won’t bother you with the ensuing details; many have similar stories to tell.


Nursing was once a vocation and an easy choice to make. If you were the kind of person who liked to care and look after others, it was a natural career choice.


If an occasional rouge nurse cropped up it was usually picked up and dismissal followed on pretty quickly. Nurses were frequently assessed not only on their knowledge, but also on their attitude towards the patient. If you didn’t remember to put the statement ‘reassure the patient’ at the beginning and end of every exam question, you failed.


A patient’s anxiety, feelings and dignity were at the centre of care delivery at every level. Not anymore. The patient is very definitely at the bottom of the NHS food chain as this mornings report - which really only skims the surface - shows.


Nowadays, if someone who is really not suitable in a caring nursing role is identified, she will be re-trained and counselled however dismissal, is virtually impossible thanks to employment legislation introduced by Labour at the demand of the Trade Unions.


No NHS trust can afford the cost of an ‘unfair dismissal’ court case and therefore nurses are retained regardless of their core personality, which may be one which is far from kind, dedicated or sympathetic. All essential qualities in a nurse.


A lack of compassion and an absence of a caring nature results in the stories the Patients Association quotes in this mornings report.


Employment legislation has become so restrictive over the last twelve years that the kick back has been delivered literally to those who are at their weakest and most vulnerable.


Many complaints are thrown at the NHS. Large waiting lists, post code treatment, withheld drugs, dirty wards amongst others.


Within such a huge organisation as the NHS, repair has to begin at the core. It seems to me that in order to rid the NHS of those not fit to care for the nations sick, a new Conservative Government will need to evaluate employment legislation and practice pretty quickly.


I remember to this day how following an op-day, we would walk around the ward in the middle of the night and sit on sides of beds and talk to awake and worried patients about what was happening to them. What was happening at home? Who was looking after the children? How the family would manage with someone off work sick for a month? Anxieties and worries which kept people awake at night and which a cup of tea, a hand to hold with a few kind words of re-assurance with the odd joke thrown in would chase away.


It is that element of kindness which appears to be missing and which must be regained as an essential quality in the role of a nurse in order for the needs of a patient to once again be at the heart of what the NHS is all about.

Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

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