Earlier this year my elderly and querulous stepfather spent six months in an enormous ward at our local teaching hospital. He underwent three difficult operations and a great deal of pain. The nursing care he received from the large team of nurses (men and women) was patient, caring and done with humour, which helped to lighten the burden of daily indignities.
Among the nursing team were two young men, deeply committed to their work, who did just as much, if not more, than the girls to nurse him in the true sense of the word, and he was greatly comforted by them. Each day when I visited, all the nurses would greet me by name and take the trouble to talk about his progress, telling me if they felt there was something he needed.
When he left, to move into a nursing home, it was like saying goodbye to a caring family. They cried to say goodbye. We felt how lucky he was to have been on the receiving end of such professional and, above all, loving care. That, surely, was the best of National Health and, in between Angela Lambert and the elderly stepfather, there will be shades of grey to white.
At best, with a deeply committed sister leading the team and cutting through bureaucracy, the National Health Service produces excellent care. At worst, where the bureaucracy deadens the commitment to care, there is huge room for improvement. Male patients need male as well as female nurses. The Government should do far more to improve the lot of the nurses so that they can do their job.
28 DecemberReuse content