What do nurses do if they don’t nurse?
They used to look after us, but now they are facilitating our journey through illness
We were all hopping with rage this week, especially those of us on the far side of 55, about the vile mistreatment of elderly patients in the nation’s hospitals. How is it possible to ignore the hungry, the thirsty, the unwashed, or those who die without pain relief or a hand to hold? It’s unimaginable.
When I was a child, nearly all the working women I knew were nurses. My grandmother worked as a midwifery nurse until she was 70; my late mother was a state-enrolled geriatric nurse whose literacy skills were so poor I am convinced that Sister Tutor faked her exam passes. My chain-smoking Lancashire aunts were nurses, and their daughters after them, in the same hospitals. They were all pretty tough and plain-spoken, these women. (My grandmother’s first words after my birth were: “She’s fey, you’ll never rear her.”) But they were as competent as anything.
A rough half of my baby-boom coevals in the oversized sixth form at Lancaster Girls’ Grammar did nursing training, while the rest of us split between university and teacher-training colleges. My friend Pauline, who had the kind of short blonde curls that looked lovely under a nurse’s cap, went to a teaching hospital at the other end of the county and lived in a nurses’ home. Oh the freedom. How I envied her.
I remember a bleary-eyed breakfast at her house after a party; her mother and elder sister washing pots while she and I were gossiping sotto voce about doctors. Her younger sister, earwigging like mad, was told to get cracking and help clear up. She expostulated: “That’s not fair, our Pauline’s sat doing nothing as well.” So her mother (I believe she must have been an ex-nurse) whipped round and delivered a dressing-down so dramatic that it stayed lodged in my head for life.
“Your sister is a FIRST-YEAR STUDENT NURSE,” she snapped. “She is the lowest form of life in that teaching hospital. Working all the hours God sends, at everybody’s beck and call – every dirty, filthy job there is, she does it, emptying bedpans, mopping up sick, wiping old ladies’ bottoms! This is her first weekend home. When she’s an SRN with nurses and students under her, she can help clear up. Until then, she can sit on a cushion and polish her nails all day. Now, my girl, you get these pots sided. Your turn will come.”
I don’t believe we like to think of working “under” people nowadays, do we darlings? It seems so unmodern and, I don’t know — Tory? But everyone did, even the poshest girl I worked with at Harpers & Queen in the early 1980s, who was always bumming cigarettes off me. She had trained as a nurse but left before qualifying. (“All nurses smoke – it helps with the pong.”) She told me any nurse can palm a fried egg off a plate and swallow it without anyone noticing. But why would they do that? “To keep from starving to death! You’ve been on the ward since seven, sister’s shrieking that you can’t eat until the patients are fed”
Ah, yes. Back then, when sisters yelled and patients were fed and second-year students made first years empty the bedpans. The golden years. (Of what we might call bullying in the workplace now.) It is very, very easy to convince oneself that hospital care was better then, just because nurses seemed “better” then. Crisper, frillier. A young nurse I met in training told me she didn’t “look after” patients. That diminished them and belittled their sense of autonomy. “Patients look after themselves. You own your illness: we facilitate your journey through it.” You what? “Patients don’t just lie there these days waiting for nurses to give them a blanket bath!”
The whole philosophy of nursing changed between my schoolfriends’ boot-camp training at a teaching hospital and their daughters’ degree courses in nursing and public health management at major universities under the Project 2000 policy. But nurses didn’t change the philosophy. Government did. Fingers crossed that I avoid the Patient’s Journey Through Holistic Self-Management of Wellness myself.
Australian teachers reveal why they walked
PROBLEM students should face harsher penalties, including Saturday-morning detention and fines for their parents, say WA teachers who have walked away from the classroom.
A disproportionate number of public school teachers are also blaming increased workloads and stress for their decision to quit, new reports show.
The exit surveys of 260 teachers and other staff who resigned from the Education Department in the past year are outlined in two reports, which were released to The Sunday Times under Freedom of Information laws this week.
It is the first time such exit surveys have been publicly released and they give a rare insight into the challenges facing our state’s 35,000 public school teachers and staff.
One teacher recommended “harsher penalties for disruptive students”, including more frequent suspensions and exclusions for “lesser disruptive behaviour” to stem violent behaviour. The teacher also called for after-school and Saturday morning detentions.
Another said: “Start making parents accountable for the actions of their children. Financial penalties for disruptive students.”
A third teacher said: “I feel this may be a sign of the times, but the students seem to have more control than the teachers. “I have been assaulted by a student in the past and due to inexperience I did not pursue it. The school at the time seemed to brush it under the carpet and the student went unpunished.
“It seems suspension or expulsion would look bad on their school record. Behaviour like that is a major concern for all teachers. Crowd control is used instead of teaching in some schools.”The surveys, conducted by the Education Department between October 2009 and July 2010, reveal:
* About a third (87 people) of those who completed the survey said they would not consider returning to work for the Education Department in the future.
* More than one in 10 teachers and staff (30 people) identified family reasons as the main reason for leaving.
* Almost 8 per cent (20 people) of teachers and staff were retiring, while a further 8 per cent (20 people) quit to “pursue other interests”.
* Eighteen people (7 per cent) said they walked away from teaching for a work-life balance.
* Ten people (almost 4 per cent) blamed their decision to quit on harassment, discrimination or workplace bullying.
* The number of teachers and staff who blamed workload and workplace pressure for their decision to quit was more than three times the benchmark average.
* The number of teachers and staff who cited work-life balance as their reason for leaving was up to seven times the benchmark average.
Red meat DOES increase cancer risk, new report will say
“Although the evidence is not conclusive”. Well what is it then? Speculation is what it is — motivated by the fact that meat is popular. The “superior” people will attack ANYTHING that is popular
Britons should cut their consumption of red and processed meat to reduce the risk of bowel cancer, scientific experts are expected to recommend in a report. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) was asked by the Department of Health to review dietary advice on meat consumption as a source of iron.
In a draft report published in June 2009 the committee of independent experts said lower consumption of red and processed meat would probably reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
The committee said: ‘Although the evidence is not conclusive, as a precaution, it may be advisable for intakes of red and processed meat not to increase above the current average (70g/day) and for high consumers of red and processed meat (100g/day or more) to reduce their intakes.’
A daily total of 70g is equivalent to about three rashers of bacon.
The Sunday Telegraph said the full report, to be published within days, was expected to echo the committee’s draft report.
The World Cancer Research Fund already recommends people limit their intake of red meat, including pork, beef, lamb and goat, to 500g a week
The World Cancer Research Fund already recommends people limit their intake of red meat, including pork, beef, lamb and goat, to 500g a week
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: ‘The DH committee of independent experts on nutrition will shortly publish their final report on iron and health.’
The World Cancer Research Fund already recommends people limit their intake of red meat, including pork, beef, lamb and goat, to 500g a week. The fund also advises consumers to avoid too much processed meat, including hot dogs, ham, bacon and some sausages and burgers.
It follows a review by the British Nutrition Foundation last week which suggested demolished the ‘myths and misconceptions’ about the meat, saying that most people eat healthy amounts which are not linked to greater risk of disease.
Modern farming methods have cut fat levels, which can be even lower than chicken, while red meat provides high levels of vital nutrients, including iron.
A vegetarian having a Cheddar cheese salad will eat seven times more fat, pound for pound, than lean red meat contains, said the review which looks at current evidence on health and red meat and found no evidence of ‘negative health effects’.
Payback time for grasping British prisoners: Inmates to pay £76 costs each as judge throws out vote-ban compensation claim
Almost 600 criminals trying to make money out of the voting ban on prisoners were slapped down by a High Court judge yesterday. They had sought £5,000 each compensation for being unable to vote at the last election. Instead, Mr Justice Langstaff ordered them to PAY £76 each towards the costs of their action.
In a decision hailed as a rare legal victory for common sense, he ruled that European judgments should never be allowed to trump laws passed at Westminster.
It was a decisive blow for the authority of Parliament over the European Court of Human Rights – and the legal vultures demanding millions of pounds in compensation for prisoners.
Tens of thousands of prisoners had been expected to try to sue the Government because it has not bowed to Strasbourg and presented them with the right to vote in elections. Government lawyers had estimated an eventual bill to the taxpayer of close to £150 million. But that threat evaporated following yesterday’s ruling.
None of the 588 prisoners involved had been able to keep the services of lawyers to represent them because they were denied taxpayer-funded legal aid by the Legal Services Commission and no lawyer was willing to take on the case on a no-win no-fee basis.
Similarly, without legal aid they must pay the costs of their lost action themselves. The risk of having to pay costs appears to have affected the willingness of prisoners to pursue their claims once they realised they would not be given legal aid.
The case was heard in the name of Paul Hydes, a 36-year-old heroin addict serving life for burglary, firearms offences and violent robberies from lone women on a canal towpath in East London. When he was summoned from his cell at Pentonville to the High Court hearing, he refused to get into the prison van.
Mr Justice Langstaff was scathing about the claims made by the 588 who had joined the line for compensation over last April’s election. He said English laws, last restated by Parliament in 1983, said they should not vote. There were no legal precedents to change the law.
And, the judge said, even Strasbourg had refused to compensate the prisoner who won the 2005 test case over the voting issue which launched the wave of compensation claims – axe killer John Hirst. ‘There are no reasonable grounds in domestic law for bringing a claim for damages or a declaration for being disenfranchised whilst a prisoner,’ he said. ‘On the law as it stands the claim by Mr Hydes cannot hope to succeed.’
He said the Ministry of Justice’s costs for the case, of almost £46,000, were ‘entirely reasonable’ and each prisoner should pay a share. The £76 payment would take two months of prison work to raise.
Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Clacton, said: ‘What will be most surprising about this judgment for most of my constituents is that we still have judges with common sense.’
The ruling has led to a deepening row between Westminster and Strasbourg. David Cameron – who said the idea of giving prisoners the vote made him sick to the stomach – first tried to limit voting to those serving less than four years. Last week MPs decided overwhelmingly on a free vote that Strasbourg’s ruling should be rejected and the prisoner vote question is a matter for the Westminster Parliament.
Britain could defy European human rights judges over prisoner voting with minimal risk of any penalty, ministers have been advised.
There is only an outside chance of serious punishment for any politician who decides to defy outright the judgments of Strasbourg.
Government lawyers who drew up the leaked analysis for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was unlikely that Britain would be thrown out of the Council of Europe, the 47-nation European organisation that runs the European Court on Human Rights.
EDL: a wet dream for purposeless lefties
The English Defence League has provided an easy target for politicians and campaigners in search of a cause.
You could be forgiven for thinking it was 1936 all over again. Unite Against Fascism is rallying the troops against the English Defence League (EDL), declaring: ‘It’s time now to make a stand. We cannot allow racists to rampage through our towns, threatening and attacking Muslims or anyone else.’ Politicians are drawing comparisons between today’s situation and Oswald Mosley’s fascist marches in 1930s East London. And the media is publishing reams about the EDL’s ‘visceral, violent, anti-Muslim hatred’.
Are we witnessing the rise of twenty-first-century blackshirts? In a word, no. The EDL is not fascist; it doesn’t subscribe to a fascist ideology or, indeed, any ideology at all. Yes, it is obsessed with radical Islam and argues that the worst examples of Islamist ideas and actions are fundamentally problems of Islam itself. The EDL’s mission statement luridly argues that Islam is responsible for ‘the denigration and oppression of women, the molestation of young children, the committing of so-called honour killings, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and continued support for those responsible for terrorist atrocities’. Yet while the EDL’s beliefs about Islam are reactionary, and some of its members may well be racist, it is also a quite different organisation to far-right groups like the National Front or the British National Party.
The EDL’s appearance in towns across England, and further afield, doesn’t mark a major resurgence of the far right. The attempt to understand the rise of the EDL by reference to zombie categories both confuses the issue and exacerbates the problem. The EDL needs to be understood on its own terms in the social and political context of today, not through lazy comparisons with events that occurred 80 years ago.
The first question to ask is why is this happening now? In many ways, the rise of the EDL is an understandable response to the marginalisation of vast swathes of the white working classes in the UK. In the past, there existed a number of institutions that could represent their voices and interests; these are notable now by their absence. Once-vibrant trade unions, for example, now exist mainly as hollowed-out shells, obsessed with health-and-safety legislation and more interested in dampening down militancy than in pursuing industrial action. The modern trade union is more concerned with offering practical guidance and therapeutic support when members face redundancy than in fighting for its members’ interests.
Worst of all is the traditional mouthpiece of the working classes, the Labour Party. In recent decades, the Labour Party has become utterly dislocated from the working classes. In 1959, Labour’s support among the manual working classes was 62 per cent; by 1983 it had dropped to 38 per cent. Since then, it has been largely staffed and supported by the middle classes. So it’s no real surprise that New Labour makes no bones in revealing its contempt for the working classes, who have been stereotyped as football-obsessed, beer-swilling thugs. New Labour is no longer interested in representing workers’ interests and instead attempts to remould them into ‘acceptable’ citizens, pressuring them to eat healthy food, cut down on smoking and boozing, and to become cultured through, among many other things, the social engineering that is immigration policy.
As Brendan O’Neill has outlined previously on spiked, New Labour actively turned immigration into an elite weapon for the ‘social good’ of the country, in ‘a subconscious attempt by a disoriented elite to renew Britain, to redefine it, through altering the social make-up and elevating the virtues of the migrant above the virtues of traditional British nationalism and the native working classes’.
Today, any disgruntlement among the working classes is seen as the ‘bigoted’ response of a class going the way of the dodo, that ought to be silenced and re-educated through diversity-awareness classes and other such initiatives. At the last General Election in 2010, discussion of immigration was treated as taboo, with politicians even agreeing to sign pledges promising they wouldn’t mention the ‘I’ word when electioneering lest it stoke racial tensions and awaken the inner fascistic tendencies presumed to lie barely dormant in the white working classes.
Against that background, is it really so hard to understand why the working classes are organising themselves into groups like the EDL, when the organisations that traditionally represented them now treat them with such contempt and, indeed, have forced them to feel like outsiders in their own country? At a time of great alientation, when working-class white people are looked upon as strange creatures, and when they are forbidden from talking about immigration, the emergence of a group like the EDL has a perverse logic to it.
This leads to the second question: why is the EDL making such a big splash? The EDL is being blown out of all proportion. Labour MP Sadiq Khan has even accused David Cameron of ‘writing propaganda for the EDL’ with his recent speech on the failure of multiculturalism. The hysterical response to the EDL shows it has become an all-purpose tool for liberals, fascist-hunters and politicians, who want to carve out a sense of identity and purpose and re-enforce their smug sense of moral superiority over Others.
Where British National Party leader Nick Griffin has attempted to make his party more respectable, replacing skinheads and bovver boots with suits, the EDL ‘thugs’ are a liberal’s wet dream. They are a picture of everything liberals would imagine fascists to be: rowdy men, often with cropped haircuts, taking to the street and singing slurred, boisterous chants, wrapped in the St George’s flag and wearing hoodies. One liberal commentator has chastised the Daily Star for publishing ‘crude propaganda’ about the EDL, claiming its readers would be brainwashed like mindless, ill-educated drones: ‘Who can blame a reader who, after reading such a skewed version of events, is gripped with anti-Muslim fervour?’
From this standpoint, it seems clear that many liberal observers view the ideas of the EDL as contagious, and thus believe that EDL members should be quarantined, censured or censored, lest they infect other, dim-witted working-class people.
Meanwhile, the more radical left uses the EDL to gain a sense of purpose. And as has long been the case, the left is seriously censorious towards anything that is stamped as ‘fascistic’. The EDL can barely announce a public appearance without immediate attempts to stop it, with campaigners out on the streets with petitions for the home secretary to ban EDL demonstrations in the name of ‘protecting our communities’. Activists also complain to the BBC for giving the EDL airtime on Newsnight and name and shame pubs that let the EDL meet on their premises. All of this reveals a far more authoritarian instinct than anything exhibited by the EDL to date.
The EDL is trapped in a vicious circle. It exists largely because its members have no way of expressing their ideas or interests, yet when they do express them they are shouted down. To recognise that there is a basis for discontent does not mean that the EDL is right. There is much scaremongering by the EDL about the imminent threat of Sharia law being introduced in the UK – a nonsensical notion. However, when you listen to some of the concrete concerns of the EDL’s members, they don’t sound unreasonable. At the Luton march in February, EDL founder Tommy Robinson complained about schools banning the St George’s cross, lest it offend people, about council land earmarked for affordable housing being sold below its market value for a mosque to be built, and about the local shopping centre building a ‘multi-faith centre’ when ‘it’s been there for 40 years without one’.
These concerns do not really expose any problematic rise in extreme Islam but rather speak to the intrusive social engineering of the New Labour years, which has made many working-class white people feel marginalised. One woman who addressed the crowd on the EDL march in Luton announced to loud applause: ‘For many centuries, Englishmen have claimed and successfully fought for the rights of free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience… We must stand up and reclaim our ancient liberties.’
The greatest threat to these liberties comes not from radical Islam, but the odious triad of smug observers, censorious left-wing groups and interfering politicians, who in equal measure both despise the EDL and are dearly thankful for its existence as it gives them a sense of purpose. Challenging these elitist views is something that would be worth taking to the streets for.