Letter: NHS ignorance

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Alan Milburn has proved, like many Health Secretaries before him, to be completely ignorant of the facts ("Nurses to take over doctors' role", 19 November). NHS nurses started to take on the duties of junior doctors up to 10 years ago. Currently thousands of nurses already provide the services that Mr Milburn will be encouraging us to take on.

Nurses want to know what the future holds for them, they do not need to be told what they currently do. If he were "to get out there" and speak to those of us who actually nurse, he would know the frustration of doing the work of a junior doctor, along with the responsibility of life and death that is left with nurses.Nurses already "administer powerful drugs"; we also draw blood, assess admissions and pronounce death.

Nurses are an intelligent and flexible profession and embrace these further opportunities, but Mr Milburn is very late in offering career incentives to defeated and demoralised nurses who have been virtually forced to carry out these extra duties for several years.

Many of us have now joined the private sector, where our skills are appreciated and our voices listened to. For my colleagues and staff who remain within the NHS, I will watch with anticipation for the "removal of ceilings to promotion and higher pay for nurses".

SARA L JAMES

Senior Manager for Scotland

The Scottish Nursing Guild

Edinburgh

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