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Why the health service used to work better

IT IS incredibly easy to say that things were better in my day, but sometimes it happens to be true.

In my day, a staff nurse spent the majority of her/his time at the bedside providing expert clinical care – often backed up by a highly skilled state-enrolled nurse who provided practical care.

While records were kept, they were never the raison d'etre of the nurse. Nurses saw their primary role as caring for the sick, which involved everything from providing personal care, ensuring comfort and dignity, maintaining the status of patients and ensuring that people in their care were placed in the best position to make a full recovery.

The culture of nursing did involve tasks that may have been seen as menial, but one was taught to see beyond the task, to the person. Nobody was too posh to wash, nor too educated to provide basic care.

Nowadays, there are far fewer student nurses, spending less time at the bedside, staffing ratios are woeful and often juxtaposed with a similar explosion in the numbers of administrators.

Local hospitals have been closed. Elderly people have been moved out of hospitals into nursing homes, where there is often only one qualified nurse on duty. A&E departments have been closed and a culture developed where the GP is bypassed, thus overloading hospitals.

Finally, in my day, there was a lot less tinkering with the health service by politicians.

JOHN ORR MA, MEd, RGN, RMN

Seaforde, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph

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