Has Nursing Lost Its Humanity?

“Would your mum be happy to use this service?”, that’s the question being asked by Andrea Sutcliffe, who in January will become the new chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). In a bid to tackle concerns around levels of care, Sutcliffe argues that the humanity at the heart of the NMC needs to return, in terms of how it treats its members, as well as its responsibility to the public. But has humanity in nursing been lost?

Restoring respect to the NMC

Andrea Sutcliffe will take on the post of chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council in January, a body which has over 700,000 members from midwife and nursing professions. She was previously the inspector of adult social care for the Care Quality Commission, and during her time was heavily involved with people who use care services and their families to ensure improvements were made. It’s expected that while she will be a strong advocate for the NMC’s members, she will be tough on poor practice as a means of regaining the trust that has been lost following several controversial incidents, like Morecambe Bay and Gosport.

Has humanity in nursing disappeared?

Improving the quality of care has long been a priority for the NHS.

‘Focusing care on what is important to individuals as human beings enables us to understand and more fully appreciate a person’s personal experience of ill health, enabling us to have a better understanding of how to support them’

That was the message in the draft education outcomes framework published by Health Education England last summer. It places importance on the need for dignity and respect, to act with compassion and respond with kindness and humanity to an individual’s needs.

It’s a philosophy that is familiar when we think of the ideals of care. However, with many people leaving the nursing profession, a high volume of vacancies and high levels of students dropping out from their training, it seems as though these ideals need to be restored. Patient care should remain a priority, even when transitioning through a period of uncertainty and organisational change. Mentors are being encouraged to assess not only a student’s skills, but whether or not they’d be happy to have them care for themselves or a loved one if needed.

Despite the many negative headlines surrounding nursing, there are many voices in the nursing community who show that humanity in nursing still exists, and that they followed the path to care for others. From helping those who are going through a difficult time, to using skills to save lives outside of work, many nurses are sharing their stories as reminders of why they chose the profession.

As concerns around nursing shortages grow, especially as we enter a tough period of the year for healthcare, it’s important to remind others of the importance of nursing. Eliminating nursing stereotypes and a huge recruitment drive for nurses are among the steps being taken to change opinions on the profession and encourage more students to apply for nursing degrees.

Healthcare continues to be a challenging industry to work in, but working out of hours and choosing other types of shift patterns can help provide a change from being on the front line. For more information about working out of hours and to see current job roles, click here.