Our series of in-depth reports this week on the state of nursing in Britain has drawn a huge and impassioned response from readers both inside and outside the profession who share the concern about the quality of nursing in the NHS. Many offer prescriptions for improvements; others say that, for all the money spent by the last government, staffing remains inadequate and is even being cut.
In her conclusion today, the writer of the series, Christina Patterson, offers a 10-point manifesto for better nursing, which opens with a call to reinforce the responsibility of the ward sister, continues with a recommendation that healthcare assistants receive a minimum level of training, and ends with a requirement that all nurses take a pledge, renewed every five years, to provide compassionate care.
In an interview, the Public Health minister, Anne Milton, a former senior nurse herself, notes the changes the profession has undergone in recent years, and expresses her hope for a culture shift, including a narrowing of the gap that has opened up between theory and practice in nurses' training. Such a shift, though, is unlikely to happen without a determined push from those who use the NHS, as well as those who lead and staff it. Please take the time to write to your MP, to your NHS trust or to the minister, and make sure your voice heard.
Special report: A crisis in nursing
Day One: Six operations, six stays in hospital – and six first-hand experiences
of the care that doesn't care enough
* Christina Patterson: More nurses, better paid than ever – so why are standards going down?
* Leading article: What can and should be done about nursing
* Day Two: Reforms in the 1990s were supposed to make nursing care better. Instead, there's a widely shared sense that this was how today's compassion deficit began. How did we come to this?
* Day Three: How can a profession whose raison d'être is caring attract so much criticism for its perceived callousness? Does nursing need to be managed differently? Or is the answer to develop a new culture of compassion?
* Day Four: The nurses who taught an ailing hospital how to care
* Day Five: My 10-point plan for change by Christina Patterson
* 'Nurses do not wake up each morning intent on delivering poor care...'
* Anne Milton: 'We need to raise the bar'
* Leading article: Manifesto for better nursing