Letters: Put nurse training back on wards

These letters appear in the Wednesday 27th March edition of the Independent

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I qualified as a nurse in March of 1991. I was in one of the last pre-degree groups in my training hospital. We spent six weeks in school at the beginning of the course, then spent two months working as part of the team on the wards, getting paid as part of that team, then spent a week back in school.

That was the pattern throughout the three-year course – one “prep” week, preparing us for what we would learn in the next two months, eight weeks on the ward, then one “con” week, consolidating what we had learnt, with a test to see if it had all gone in.

We gained a great deal of patient-orientated, practical experience. We qualified with the ability to see the patient as a human being with all the same needs as ourselves: eating, drinking, needing to pass out what had gone in, the need to be clean, and so on.

The problem as I see it with the degree/diploma course is that the foundation in caring for people has been lost (Nurse training targeted after Mid Staffs scandal”, 26 March).

The nurse training should return to what it was. The students should not work as unqualified nurses outside of their course, but as part of the team during that training.

Sadly, I feel that this will never happen.

Tessa Bennett

Oxford

In her final weeks, when my father could no longer cope, my mother was looked after at home by community nurses. She was 87, deaf, frustrated with her life, and extremely scared. She spent the last two weeks of her life in a semi-comatose state, screaming with frustration and fear whenever she regained a measure of consciousness.

Without the care and support of that team of community nurses, I could not have coped. Unhurried and patient, they did their best to ease my mother’s desperate parting, and comforted and counselled my father and me. When I rang to say my mother had finally let go, they were on their lunch break, and apologised profusely for this when they rang back. Two of them attended the funeral and one joined us on a charity walk.

They were not saints, just NHS nurses doing an invaluable job with no fees attached. The NHS is far from perfect, but let us not forget how much we owe to the many overworked, dedicated people who help us in our hour of need.

Catharine Hunt

Battle, East Sussex

I welcome the fact that the Government is considering imposing on the NHS and its staff a “duty of candour”. But this will not work in isolation.

It needs to be part of a more fundamental reform in relation to claims for damages. So long as there is a right to sue for the consequences of medical mistakes, this will inevitably engender a defensive mindset. What is needed is a “no fault” claim system, as recommended over the years by Royal Commissions. This would promote an open culture (as in the airline industry), and save the vast sums that are spent by both sides on litigation.

Philip Goldenberg

Woking, Surrey

 

Don’t rely on the Pope for victory in the Falklands

Since both the Prime Minister and Argentine President Kirchner were in such a hurry to associate the new Pope with their antagonistic views on the Falklands/Malvinas question, it may be useful to remind them that Francis’s Argentine citizenship is now irrelevant. He represents all Catholics, irrespective of their nationality or political views.

At most, Cameron and Kirchner will get from the Pope calls for goodwill and reciprocal empathy, but never an endorsement of the political points they aim at scoring with their domestic audiences.

Years ago, I attended Mass at the Catholic Cathedral in Port Stanley before proceeding to tea and biscuits with the congregation. We may not have agreed on politics, but we had more important things to share, in line with the calls for reconciliation made by John Paul II during his visit to Argentina and Great Britain in 1982. His views were echoed by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie.

Perhaps Cameron and Kirchner should read what they both said, rather than trying to impose their own political agenda on the Pope.

Agustin Blanco-Bazan

London NW8

Now that President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina has fellow citizen Pope Francis on her side to take back the Falklands, what should we expect from them next? If they decide to invade again, it’s quite apparent that we no longer have the military strength, the allied support or political leadership to defend the islands as we did in 1982. And I can’t see that the recent referendum, in which the residents voted to remain British, will serve as any deterrent.

The geographical location is an obvious reason why the Argies want to reclaim the Malvinas so dearly. But the bigger motivation is the presence of oil. So with this in mind, and to avert another conflict that would cost more lives of our brave servicemen and women plus many millions of pounds we don’t have, I propose we sell the Falklands to Buenos Aires. Considering it has the potential to produce hundreds of millions of barrels of oil, it’s got to be worth a nice chunk of change.

I’d give each Falklands family £500,000 to relocate to the UK, and use the rest to pay off the national debt.

Peter Flynn

Sheffield

So the Argentine President wants the new Pope to intervene in her country’s dispute with us over the Falklands. Someone needs to tell her we’ve not been listening to him for more than 400 years.

Mick Keeling

Retford, Nottinghamshire

 

Women’s prizes still needed

It is not the Orange Prize that is “sexist”, but rather a literary industry that makes it necessary for half of its members to create a gender-specific award that recognises their achievements (Leading article, 12 March). Men-only book prizes do not exist simply because there is no need for them. A perfunctory look at winners of major literary prizes over recent decades speaks volumes about who the real losers are.

As you rightly suggest, “sustained pressure on judges of ‘mainstream’ prizes to overcome their prejudices” is key to narrowing the gender gap; but not sufficient itself to resolve the problem either. Consider, for instance, the Forward Poetry Prize, which had an all-male shortlist in 2011. In line with affirmative action measures, the Orange Prize is a remedy of sorts, not indeed the solution to a much wider social problem. Again, consider the all-male shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011. The new Women’s Prize for Fiction must therefore remain so until such time as it is no longer needed.

Dr Christina Julios

London SE1

 

Sent to school with no breakfast

Your news story on 22 March said pupils are “going hungry” at breakfast time because of government cuts. Pull the other one. I find it unbelievable that there are any families in this nation so poor they cannot give their children a bowl of hot porridge or a slice of toast and jam before they go to school.

In the worst days of the Thirties, my father went to school with a hot breakfast, and even the families of the poorest kids I knew at school in the Fifties could afford bread or porridge oats. If children are not eating breakfast before school, it’s because the parents are not providing it out of irresponsibility, or the children are refusing it.

This is scaremongering and reduces the credibility of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, and your newspaper for not challenging it.

Stuart White

Eastbourne

 

Self-righteous conflicts

Jim McCluskey (Letter, 23 March), reacting to John Prescott’s recantation of his support for the Iraq war, states that we should not let him and others who supported the war off the hook because we thus “collude in their horrendous act”.

Equally, there are probably those who would not wish to let Prescott off the hook for his volte-face over the Falklands (from opposing to supporting our “aggression” in that case). Still others would not wish to let the likes of Mr McCluskey off the hook for their abiding self-righteousness and for mistaking belief for certainty.

He contends that aggression is a “crime” and asserts that “criminals need to be prosecuted”. Being an aggressive know-all is not, in fact, a crime; which is just as well for both Mr Prescott and Mr McCluskey.

Hugh Hetherington

Sandwich, Kent

 

The right balance for the economy

Karl Marx suggested that at the heart of industrial capitalism lay a tendency for the rate of profit to fall. Or as Donald Roy expressed it (Letter, 26 March), there is little scope for growth in industries close to state-of-the-art productivity, as they are in most of the developed world. If this is the case, should our target be not growth, but equilibrium?

Roger Cook

Steeple Langford,

Salisbury

 

Not much of a rescue package

Can anyone explain in words of one syllable how awarding the Air Sea Rescue service to an American company will benefit our hard-pressed economy, which I understood was the Government’s prime purpose?

Eileen Noakes

Totnes, Devon

Americans are to take charge of Britain’s Air Sea Rescue services. I look forward to hearing about their attempts to communicate with lifeboat men in Mousehole, Pwllheli and Loch Nam Madadh etc. Costessey is well inland, fortunately.

Terence Davidson

Twickenham

 

Sports in a fix

Footballers and cricketers have been banned for fixing matches. But it is now being suggested that Sebastian Vettel should be banned for not fixing the result of the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – which his team managers had ordered him to do.

Simon Molloy

London E8

 

No farming out

Matthew Norman, writing about Boris Johnson (25 March), suggests that “he’d do best to buy a Lincolnshire smallholding...”. For God’s sake, keep him to yourselves: in no circumstances must this man be allowed to leave the M25 enclave.

Trevor Walshaw

Holmfirth,

West Yorkshire

 

Plane madness

Each time my family and I travel with Turkish Airlines, my son is handed an inflatable airplane. It is only a matter of time before a parent unwittingly shouts at their child: “Jimmy, you are not to blow up the plane until we have taken off!”

Jonathan Shine

London NW11

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