Thursday, 28 March 2013

Nurses Don't Care


O Nightingale, ye come fresh-faced wide-eyed,  
qualified to offer care, tend the sick,
but find forms to be filled, boxes to tick,
wards short-staffed over-stretched thus care denied.
Hush now, do not speak out for woe betide
those who whistleblow stir staff politics,
bear bullying, a raft of dirty tricks,
face a culture of fear as standards slide.
Principles stopped, burnout a means to cope
distance your self from your own sad despair,
demoralised fall the slippery slope,
accept management fiscal doctrinaire;
no longer fight for there is naught of hope,
the only way to cope is no longer care.

Anna :o]

The above is (very) loosely based on Milton’s Sonnet 1: To A Nightingale and it came to mind (thanks to Sam at dVerse) as I was attempting to compose a post re safe (nurse) staffing ratios here in the UK.

For those of you who do not know of the grisly tale of Mid Staffs Hospital read some of the details here (The Final Report of Robert Francis’s Inquiry Into Care Provided…) and learn how

The Inquiry found that a chronic shortage of staff, particularly nursing staff, was largely responsible for the substandard care. Morale at the Trust was low, and while many staff did their best in difficult circumstances, others showed a disturbing lack of compassion towards their patients. Staff who spoke out felt ignored and there is strong evidence that many were deterred from doing so through fear and bullying”    and

"It is now clear that some staff did express concern about the standard of care being provided to patients. The tragedy was that they were ignored and worse still others were discouraged from speaking out."

It is of great concern that those in management (at that time) have not had much blame laid at their door or indeed appears to have suffered any penalties, instead being promoted to other positions of ‘trust’ – read of it here at The Cockroach Catcher blog ( who muses “Did things just happen or was there a master plan?”)  

Does management no longer lead by example...or perhaps they were at Mid Staffs...?

However our dear health secretary Jeremy Hunt (or something that rhymes with Hunt?) has decided much of the blame lies at the door of nurses and training to care is imperative…  (Although I accept that some who have chosen nursing as a career are (by their very nature ) not very nice (and would have flourished at Mid Staffs) it is my contention that burnout was a major factor.)

Do you know that there are 17 other English hospitals with unsafe staffing levels – do you care?  Do you know that since May 2010 there are nearly 5000 more doctors and nearly 900 more midwives – but 7000 less nurses – do you care?

IF YOU DO CARE AND WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT – PLEASE SIGN THIS ePETITION CALLING FOR MINIMUM (SAFE) STAFF NURSE LEVELS.  PLEASE DO - OR ANOTHER MID STAFFS MIGHT HAPPEN AND MIGHT BE HAPPENING NOW…

With thanks to Sam at dVerse for the poetic inspiration.  Thanks again Sam!

Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Author: Duyckinick, Evert A.

28 comments:

Brudberg said...

Wow, what an excellent example.. you would have made Milton proud.

rlbk75 said...

A worthy topic. Very nicely written.

Brian Miller said...

ugh, wow....really like what you did with this...and an interesting topic for it as well...Principles stopped, burnout a means to cope...tough line that...and a tough job as well to be short staffed and have such responsibility as well...to get tot he point of not caring, that is a bit heart breaking honestly...well done anna...

Heaven said...

Sad to see this happening ~ A good one Anna ~

Gemma Wiseman said...

Nurses are trapped into a "no win" situation - to care is to overwork and to care nought is to be prone to criticism. It seems to be a worldwide phenomena!

aprille said...

"Don't be old
Don't be poor
Don't be sick"
famous parting shot of Neil Kinnock.

Nico said...

Great work here, and for a great cause. Very hard-hitting poem!

rowantaw.com said...

Brilliant - political and moving. I certainly think Milton would appreciate your words if he were here to read them.

Susan Daniels said...

Sad truth in this poem, and well done, with a wry twist.

Beth Winter said...

Fabulous structure and such a tragic story. Nurses are often overlooked for all that they do and to operate short-staffed in full knowledge that those placed in their care would receive substandard care is unconscionable. .

L said...

Good that you have the fortitude to look it in the eye.

marousia said...

Interesting subject matter ... wow ... I love the way you used the form ... I think Milton would love the social commentary - a nurse's life is fraught

Claudia said...

oh heck..i have some friends who work as a nurse and it can really wear you out...the sickness but also the struggle with beauraucracy ...ugh..tough and so sad as well

Zen Moments said...

Powerful poem... when my daughter was born preemie she spent her first 80 days in the NICU, those nurses become my angels in the NICU. Nurses are glue of the medical society. Nicely done.

Dave King said...

Compelling poem. Only too glad to sign.

Mary said...

Truly a sad situation. All those forms to fill out take time, and the patients suffer. It is the same here in the U.S. as far as forms go. (And fewer staff as well.) Well penned.

Semaphore said...

Wow. What can I say.

You've managed to impress me so many times over the years, and this poem is only one of many tour-de-force works that showcase the balance you have between intuition, expressiveness, and deliberate craft.

I caught the reference to Milton's poem from the first "O Nightingale" of course, and referencing Milton in a Miltonian sonnet is already an amazing self-referential feat. Needless to say, the structure is impeccably tight.

Most importantly, though, you wove such an important theme through this work, the need to commit enough resources in our centers, to provide the the best care. This is the kind of socially relevant theme that Milton himself was wont to incorporate in his writings - giving us a piece of art that also, majestically, illuminates.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your welcome comments folks.

A sad thing is happening here in the UK regarding OUR (the taxpayers) NHS – on Monday it will die…

To understand more – please visit The Jobbing Doctor’s excellent (but depressing) last post. http://thejobbingdoctor.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/gps-role-in-new-nhs.html

Mid Staffs is just the beginning of the death of a health service without a heart… I am in despair.

Anna :o[

Amber said...

Anna your writing is beautiful as always. Intelligent and your rhyming is so sophisticated and eloquent. I remember dressing up as Dorthea Dix in high school for a project in school who knew that cheap black hair dye could turn red hair green :-P I want to thank you so much for your support of my blog and all your kind words. You are an amazing poet!

Mindlovemisery

kaykuala said...

Highlighting a sad condition of the state of affairs of which many may not realize. Excellent poem, Anna!

Hank

Akila G said...

the other side of the sotry..we often tend to ignore. nice one!

yuanfields said...

I don't know the NHS, but if you pay people well, they will serve. But to pay, you have to have income. I think the way to fix problems is to fix systems. System fixes may be tough, but fixing people is tougher.

The problem is, someone has to pay for the fixes. The money has to come from somewhere. And everyone thinks their cause is the most important. People want things cheaply but they want the best they can get -- tough order.

I agree that burn out changes people horribly: Pilots, nurses, doctors, teachers .... Very tough challenges.

Arron Shilling said...

Hi anna,

sadly i am very familiar with this topic . . . your treatment is excellent . . . the Milton factor is well used and appears to add weight to your heft . . . some of the stories to emerge are truly horrific!

Frances Garrood said...

Of course with some hospitals paying up to £1800 a DAY for agency nurses, there's bound to be a problem. Bring back the SENs at the very least; caring bedside nurses, without degrees, who would actually look after patients.

Excellent post, Anna.

Stafford Ray said...

Hello Anna, just popped in to see what you are doing and found you speaking out for the profession you love... again. That is all you can do, but avoid burnout so your voice will not be silenced.

manicddaily said...

Terrible situation;, wonderful sonnet. k .

kkkkaty said...

My daughter is a nurse and she will appreciate this..your sonnet is impeccable!

Marcelo said...

wow, very different.