Letter: Frustration and hypocrisy in the NHS

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THE CONTINUING trend of all newspapers to blame those managers who work in the NHS for its ills, particularly as they are drawn into a direct comparison with front-line workers such as nurses, is deeply unhelpful.

The idea that all workers who have direct contact with patients are always a force for good is questionable. This is not to suggest, of course, that doctors and nurses do not have entirely good intentions towards patients but not all medical and therefore nursing intervention is beneficial: what nurses do is still largely directed by doctors despite the vociferous claims of many to the contrary.

By the same token, those workers who do not have direct contact with patients the media presents as expendable, perhaps even malevolent. After all, if they were not employed then their vastly inflated salaries could be spent on more "angels". That is a gross oversimplification. Such an analysis fails to appreciate the complexity of managing a modern health service.

Hospitals, and other health services, do not function on goodwill and compassion alone. The return of Matron is not the answer, and in any case, these individuals were often autocratic, ill-educated and relieved not to have contact with patients.

The provision of health care cannot be effectively and efficiently provided simply by employing more nurses, although nurse education and training, recruitment and retention are, indeed, very pressing problems. But blaming managers within the health service does not address these problems in any rational sense.

I am a staff nurse with 11 years' experience, who looks after ill people every day to the best of her ability.

HELEN REED

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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