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J R Soc Med. 2007 May; 100(5): 208.
PMCID: PMC1861409

Nursing downgraded by surreptitious political change

Shields and Watson1 (JRSM 2007;100:70-74) voiced their fears for the decline of nursing as a profession from the perspective of its poor academic standing. Clearly nursing requires the lateral thinking of an academic power base if it is not to be dismembered by the present government's weapons of self-destruction, which are currently targeted on the whole of the NHS. Whether the possession of higher scholastic qualifications should be a prerequisite for entry into the nursing profession is quite another matter.

Several decades of surreptitious political change have downgraded much of the nursing environment and the quality of staff. Why did the nursing and medical fraternity condone these changes? What happened to the Ward Sister—the Consultant's most important partner—and her brood of nurses that constituted the ward's family? That team structure used to be the linchpin of a focused, caring inpatient service. Now it is fragmented. Ward Sisters come and go. Nurses go off sick. Consultants mumble to themselves, looking in vain for a familiar face amongst the doctors and nurses wandering about the wards.

Who accepted the compartmentalised unisex ward? Fine if bed occupancy is less than 80% and sufficient toileting facilities are available for both sexes: a nightmare when occupancy is regularly greater that 95%. Patient dignity, privacy, sensitivity and choice are only cherry picked by the politicians when it brings a smile to the faceless NHS bean counters.

By all means let's encourage academic high flyers into nursing as well as medicine, but preferably those with a vocation driven by compassion that can blossom into charisma. Let's distance ourselves from the current plague of pseudo-doctors and pseudo-nurses whose brains are filled with dogma-driven tick boxes.


Competing interests None declared.


1. Shields L, Watson R. The demise of nursing in the United Kingdom: a warning for medicine. J R Soc Med 2007;100: 70-4 [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press