Nursing: The Caring Profession

The NHS has a lot of problems, one of the biggest is a lack of staff and resources, because of this the NHS has had problems in recent years keeping staffing levels at acceptable rates, despite the good pay many nurses leave because they find the job too demanding. Enter the foreigners…

Nurse suspended after ‘chatting on a mobile phone while taking patient’s blood’ | Mail Online

A hospital nurse has been suspended for allegedly chatting on her mobile phone while carrying out a blood test.

I am not surprised in the slightest by this, I have spent time in hospitals and it is alarming just how much of the staff there are not English, and not just the nurses but doctors too. There are German doctors, South African doctors, Ghanaian  doctors, Italian doctors and Indian doctors, and this was on just one ward!

I understand that there may be a shortage of doctors but surely doctors are not that thin on the ground?

an offer they couldn’t refuse

Had she not died in 1980, I am sure Hattie Jacques would be most displeased by the state of modern nursing.

I believe this has more to do with one simple fact, whatever country they live in, doctors can make far more money here in Britain than at home. I heard one German doctor say he can make five times more here, than at home!

Five times more, for that I’d move to another country, as long as it wasn’t France.

Nurses too earn a pretty penny. I believe that the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse is around £20,000, around the same as the national average salary. This again is going to attract nurses from abroad, and it seems that nurses from two main areas of the world are filling the nursing shortage. West Africa and the Philippines.

The Nigerian nurse in the article was on the phone whilst taking a patients blood, but in my experience the patient mentioned got off lightly. The West African nurses tend to be quite large women, and I have witnessed them manhandling patients around the bed in a most undignified manner. They seem to care little for the patients that they are meant to be attending, particularly the elderly.

If you attempt to bring them up on it they look at you as though you have lost your mind.

The actions of some of the nurses left me quite shocked. The Filipinos tend not to be much better, their English was terrible, surely they should have a decent standard of English before being taken on in such a role? Communication was a nightmare, as was making them aware that some of their actions were inappropriate.

Lost in translation

Whatever happened to the little girls who wanted to look after sick people?

I got the distinct impression that they just didn’t care about the people that they were looking after, and if they are here purely for the remuneration, why should they? I have heard plenty about translators and staff having to provide literature to patients in other languages, but never have I been on a ward for which English was not the primary language!

Nor would I have expected to need a third party to help me explain to a nurse simple everyday actions. It may be part of modern Britain to mingle with newcomers to this great nation, but the last place you want to run into a language barrier is in hospital. The most depressing aspect for me were the struggles of the elderly, who just gave up trying to make themselves understood, indeed I am sure a few them didn’t quite realise that they were still in England.

I’d like to say that the English nurses were better, but they were largely absent and the few that did flit in and out tended not to want to get their hands dirty with trivial things like patients. And why should they, after all they are now by and large degree educated, and think of themselves as quasi doctors. Plus, they now have foreigners to do the hard work.

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12 responses to “Nursing: The Caring Profession

  1. C.V. Compton Shaw

    I am an American R.N. of British ancestry.
    The causes of the nursing shortage in the UK and the USA are, essentially, the same. The socio-economic-political-cultural environment for nurses and nursing students is very hostile. The powerful Michavellian forces responsible for the same must be neutralized by appropriate legislation as a necessary requisite for ameliorating the nursing shortage both in the UK and the USA.

  2. This post is so riddled with stereotypes and blatant racism, that I had to stop reading half way through.

    West-African nurses “tend to be quite large women”? Are you kidding me? And you go on talking about how “they” “they” as if West-Africans are all the same. I won’t even go into the fact that you seem to think all nurses are women.

    Be careful when you write. You might just end up looking like a bigot, or an idiot. Or both.

  3. Thank you for comment Chris.

    This post was mainly based on personal observation and so they were broken down into three categories, the Filipino nurses, the English nurses and the West African nurses, of which they were three, although I saw several through out the hospital, none of which were slim.

    I didn’t say that all West African nurses are large, I said they tend to be large. All of those that I saw reinforced this belief. The nurse in the article is also a little on the large side.

    All the nurses I saw were women. Most are. As for stereotypes, any stay in hospital is stereotypical these days, stereotypical uncleanliness, stereotypical staff shortages, stereotypical lack of resources and stereotypical wards filled with neglected patients. When does a stereotype become cold hard fact? When everyone has experienced it?

    As for racism, well it is people that cry racism to every possible complaint that has led to 75% of new jobs going to foreign workers in the last decade, for fear of being racist. That has led to the Government apparently spending billions recruiting and retaining nurses, yet has recruited thousands from abroad.

    Is it too much to ask that the nurses that take care of us in the hospital were born in the same country as us, went through the same education system as us, have the same values and principles as us and more importantly speak the same language as us? The odd foreign nurse is all well and good, most nations have them, but how many nations do you know of where about half of nurses on a ward are foreign nationals? In Britain it appears all too common. If noticing this or being unhappy with it makes me racist, then racist I be.

    Best keep quiet eh, wouldn’t want to complain and upset the foreigners, then again few of them speak too good English anyway. Nothing to be concerned about though, unless they are giving you your medication….

  4. Well, I can understand if you complain about an isolated incident, or even a series of incidents that you have personally experienced at a hospital, or perhaps several hospitals. It’s when you correlate race with sub-par service that you start to look a little sketchy.
    When studies are done, they are driven by statistics. One of the most important aspects of a good study is sample size, and overall quality of the sample (can it be generalized to a larger population).
    So, you see, when you talk about 3 people you saw at a hospital, and you try and generalize that to a larger population… you must understand that you’ve used a ridiculously small sample, and you’re doing nothing more than propagating racist stereotypes and beliefs.

    I might have agreed (and read on) had you left race out of this post. I do believe that there are some people in healthcare that aren’t cut out for it. I believe you could find such people subscribing to any myriad of cultures and belief-systems… or of just about any race.

    That jobs are being filled by immigrants is something we’ll all have to get used to. I agree that it can be frustrating (language barriers are a huge problem), but understand that these people are professionals, and rest assured that your government has made sure that the training of their home country is adequately parallel to your own — and if not, it is supplemented by further education. Fact is, there aren’t enough local citizens signing up to be nurses, so the choices are to look elsewhere, or have impossibly short-staffed hospitals. Take your pick.

    So yeah, I don’t care about the percentage of nationality-x or -y or -z in my hospital. I do expect them to be well trained, compassionate, and hard working. If they are not, then I (or anybody) has a right to complain. Race doesn’t need to be brought up.

  5. Thanks again for the comment Chris, but again I disagree.

    Should we really be accepting foreign workers when we have 3+ million unemployed in the UK that we are all paying for? How does it make economic sense to employ foreign workers to do jobs and then pay British citizens to sit at home?

    Also you claim that the education system is the same in the Philippines and West Africa, are you serious? It is not. Besides there are wide differences between how nurses, and how doctors are training through Europe, let alone the rest of the world. There are accepted procedures, best practices, policy and simple health and safety practices that have to be followed in the UK. There was even a complaint a few months back and I believe a court case over a German doctor, who was following German best practices, as he hadn’t been trained on the NHS ones.

    Nurses spend four years training, doctors almost seven, yet the foreigners are expected to pick it all up in a few weeks? Our health service has a budget of almost $200 billion, is one of the most advanced in the world, you can’t catch up on that in just a few weeks. As for trusting the Government, are you mad? They don’t use NHS hospitals, why should they care?

    Besides, should we really be taking the best doctors and nurses from developing nations, how is that helping them?

    They are not professionals, they are mercenaries. Purely here for the better lifestyle and the money. Sadly, this isn’t that uncommon among English nurses either.

    Like most mercenaries many send a large portion of their wages home, which benefits England not at all.

    Race does need to be brought up, in English hospitals you’d expect the nurses to be English, what with the population being 95+% English. Yet the hospitals do not reflect that.

    As for your assertion that there is a nursing shortage, you are wrong. There has never been as many nurses training as they are today, more and more nurses complete their training every year, yet still we employ foreign nurses. Just a year or two ago thousands of nurses were laid off, due to budget constraints and cutbacks. Yet still we are employing foreign workers, many of whom have been here for 5 years or more.

    As for a small sample study, perhaps, but I am sure that anyone who has spent time in a hospital were recognise my observations.

  6. I am really just trying to underscore the importance of caution when talking about race in the way that you do, on a publicly accessible forum.

    Yeah, we here (in Canada) have huge amounts of nurses in training, as well… but there aren’t enough to fill the gaps. So yeah, sometimes hiring from abroad helps.

    I don’t believe for a second that the nurses who immigrate are given a few weeks of training… they are given adequate training. The government might not use your NHS hospitals, but I’m sure they are regulated, as are the staff members within them.

  7. Since I can’t understand the first comment I wanted to chime in from the States. RN’s over here are paid very well and due to “shortages” can rely on good pay and benefits wherever they go. It’s like extortion. Anyway I think “importing” people is a bad practice. With that said though I’m curious if the foreign born staff enjoy the same pay in England and Canada.

  8. Chris, there is hiring from abroad and then just taking things too far. There are almost 20,000 Filipino nurses in the NHS, and probably about half that from Africa.

    The Government has realised the problem though, and now no longer recruits from abroad. During the staffing cutbacks a couple of years ago they were actually going to sack the foreign workers, but were forced to back track due to accusations of racism. Instead English trained nurses got the boot (and some foreign ones too to be fair).

    The nurses are given adaptation courses before they start work, but if that is anything like the English courses they go on….

  9. Alfie:

    RN’s over here are paid very well and due to “shortages” can rely on good pay and benefits wherever they go. It’s like extortion.

    It used to be that way here too, nurses were highly regarded and a job as a nurse was seen as a guaranteed job for life and there was a huge shortage. Not so anymore though, now apparently we have enough nurses, and a few years ago we had too many, although I think that was more of a case  of not enough money rather than being over staffed.

    Nurses aren’t as safe as they were and they know it.

    Apparently the foreigners are paid the same and have the same benefits as UK born nurses, although there must be a catch somewhere for the Government to have been so keen on them, then again it was probably because it must have been much cheaper having the nurses trained elsewhere at someone else’s expense and then have them work over here.

  10. A few years ago, the government went on a huge recruitment campaig, mainly in Africa, trying to attract experienced doctors and nurses. After all, they had to do something with the massive investment they were putting into the NHS. At the time, there were actually high level diplomatic complaints about the UK taking experienced people, expecially from South Africa.

    Now we have many, I believe some 20,000 fully trained doctors, trained using taxpayer funds, that have no job available to them in the UK. This is yet another example of how the government just cannot get it right when it comes to the NHS.

    Nurses are well rewarded and they also get excellent final salary pension schemes. I do not, however, see the sort of improvement in the care levels that you may have expected, based on the massive investment. In fact, I have experienced ‘private healthcare’ in other countries, which costs much, much less than we pay here and it was world class.

    As far as I am concerned, people should stop saying the NHS is free, because it is not, at least for those of us who have to pay for it and I would want to see the NHS become a service provider, rather than giver. There is a distinction, one assumes that they are doing us a favour, the other that we are fee paying customers.

  11. I agree that the nurses are well paid and I was surprised when one of the top people at the RCN said that the high pay may be one of the reasons why care has declined. He reckoned that such a good wage was attracting the wrong type of nurse, the graduates and similar, who had realised that they could earn more in nursing than in their other career paths. He said they considered themselves ‘too posh to wash.’

    That is quite a statement from the RCN. My experience certainly backs that up, most of the washing and the dirty or hands on jobs were either done by foreigners or auxillaries.

    I think that you’re right about the NHS being ‘free’. I think that it has been allowed to decline so badly because most of the patients see it as a free service and rarely complain, instead believing that they should be grateful for any sort of service!

  12. I agree on most of what has been said, i am studying my bachelor of nursing degree in Australia and 70% of the students do not speak english and mention they want to be a nurse because it’s “good money”…. i also work at a nursing home and the girls that have been “shipped” over are ridiculously hard to speak or work with, and not to mention rough to patients and lack 100% in caring…… i found a hearing aid in a mans nose and a bra put on as underwear…… so i believe if i have to do the hard yards and study my butt off so do they, maybe the government should change the way people from abroad can enter into a profession as it is very frustrating as a co-worker giving handovers as they stare at you and then walk off, mind you i am well aware they do not understand and did not listen.
    the point i am getting at is yes ok it’s great to get some extra hands but they shouldn’t have a blatant disregard to the place in which they dwell…. neither should the government allow such ignorance to the subject, they should enforce these people to learn the english language before entering or after they arrive to the country.
    as i know if i decided to work in a country where english was not spoken on a daily basis i would go out of my way to learn their language. as it would be just as frustrating for them as it is to us. i guess it’s just common sense and respectful.

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