Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Ten Commitments of Nursing or Just Another Paper Exercise?

Simply write a list of “commitments”, ensure as many people as you can reads them, then sit back and feel as if you have done something positive.

Jane Cummings, the Chief Nursing Officer for England, has had written and is now publicising her Ten Commitments of Nursing. They promise that nurses will promote: public health, nurse leadership, informed patient choices, high value care, partnerships in care, colleagues’ concerns, good quality healthcare research, the right to education and training for nurses, the right staffing ratios, and champion the use of technology.  (Read the full version here). These are Jane Cummings’ strategy to improve the quality of nursing care in England. But how helpful are they?

These ten commitments will not make any difference because they are only words on a page, there is no backing of resources or money behind them.

Nursing faces one of its biggest crises of morale in decades. Nurses are over-worked, under staffed, under paid and under trained; and yet this government expects us to do more and more with less recourses. We are now expected to roll-out a full seven day NHS with no extra funding for the increased demand.

Since 2010, we’ve seen a huge decrease in the number of nurses in the NHS (1), as they leave to work for agencies with better pay or leave the NHS altogether; we’ve seen an increase in our workload, with no extra resources, we’ve suffered a cut in our real pay (0% pay rises since 2010 when David Cameron entered 10 Downing Street) (2), budgets for training have been slashed as NHS funding is cut in real terms  (3), and now student nurses are to be robbed of their bursaries (4).

These ten commitments won’t stop another Mid Staffs scandal (5) happening again when the strain on the NHS is forcing us ever nearer another one. Why isn’t Jane Cummings doing something about this? The real problems of the NHS revolve around lack of resources (6), not nurses being without Ten Commitments to quote, why isn’t Jane Cummings speaking out on this until she goes horse?

Many Trusts have Mission Statements, some of them have spent thousands of pounds to create their Mission Statements, all these Trusts will have had to spend a lot of resources and staff hours on agreeing these Mission Statements and publishing them throughout their organisation. But how many of these Mission Statements on their own have improved patient care and increased staff’s clinical skills and care? I suspect the answer is less than one. To improve patient care takes time, skill and resources, not just words on paper.

Even if all NHS Trusts adopted these Ten Comments where are the resources to implement them? Many, if not all of them, require a solid commitment of resources and money behind them to make them work, yet all Jane Cummings seems to be backing them with words.

I’m so busy at work that I regularly leave an hour late and I have forgotten the last time I didn’t work through my lunch break. I don’t have the time to do these ten commitments as well, but I don’t remember her asking me about them.

Drew Payne

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