Sir: I must take issue with Professor Sir Roy Calne's letter (11 March) in which he suggests changes in nurse training to ameliorate the shortage of nurses in busy intensive care units. What he appears to be suggesting is the training of multi-skilled critical care nurses who can be moved from one department to another depending on which critical care areas are short of staff.
Given that courses of qualified nurses in critical care specialities such as coronary care, anaesthesia and intensive care already last for six months, one must ask how long a course would have to be if a nurse were to achieve competence in several critical care areas. Even if a nurse were able to obtain a level of competence in several areas in, for example, 18 months, I would suggest that the current salary of pounds 13,339 for nurses working in these areas is a rather inadequate incentive to undertake what would be a very demanding course.
It is my experience that nurses tend not to like being shunted from pillar to post. Although working in high dependency areas is stressful for nurses I would suggest that the work becomes less demanding as nurses become more familiar with it. There is a shortage of nurses in almost every speciality and the reason this shortage is more apparent in intensive care units is because of the high nurse-to-patient ratio.
If the Conservative government were more concerned with funding the NHS properly (at least to the level of comparable European economies) and less concerned with bribing voters with income tax cuts many of the problems which afflict the NHS, causing low morale and shortages of staff and resources, would be solved.
Nicholas Martin, RGN
Anaesthetic Staff Nurse
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies