In today’s Telegraph I give my opinion on the mass migration of nursing staff from the NHS.

I ask why girls would want to work in a profession from which, thanks to feminism, the intrinsic caring role has been stripped. It has been devalued and deemed below the nurses’ pay grade. The result is that care has been replaced by process, demoralising nursing further. For more read here.


  1. Sorry, Kathy – paywalled.

    I’m sure it’s a very good article, but I’m about as likely to give any of my hard-earned to the sad shadow of a newspaper that currently masquerades as The Telegraph as I am to pay the bbc’s foul poll tax.

    • Agreed. I cancelled my sub and don’t even look at their headlines since they dropped discus and axed most of the few remaining literate staff. What was done to that paper was pure vandalism.

  2. No.
    Care has not been replaced by process so much as by what amounts to (now) official Healthcare rationing amidst an ideological winding down of the service plus the consequent de-staffing.
    Lest you rejoice at that: -remember how badly Circle Healthcare did at Hinchingbrooke.

    • Winding down including removal of bursaries, training places and pay freeze, as well as the vicious cycle of agency/bank nurses gobbling up nursing budgets so they can’t afford to staff up with full time directly employed establishment levels.

  3. My sister in law is a nurse. She worked in A&E for a long time, had children and now works with elderly patients. The problems she talks about have nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with making sure the hospital isn’t sued by rapacious lawyers and meet some wholly arbitrary targets. When targets were introduced, on a wholly arbitrary basis, to reduce waiting times in A&E, all that happened was that people waited in ambulances, taking the ambulance out of service. The target was met, but with disastrous consequences elsewhere.

    Should the government finally be honest and admit that the system is slowly being deflated prior to being packed away and stored neatly in a box marked ‘nostalgia,’ then fine. But they should declare it openly so people can decide what they think of it at the ballot box. Doing it by stealth and blaming whatever the writer’s pet hobby horse is, from feminism to immigration, is treating people like fools.

    • It’s a divide and conquer strategy. Put a service under intolerable pressure. Let it fail. Then bring in the private sector to ‘save’ it. Happening in education, social services and health. Like you say, if you want to privatise, put it to the electorate and see what happens. Cowardice and stealth are pretty low.

  4. One way and another, I’ve had a lot of hospital experience in recent years, both A&E and programmed surgery though in France not the UK. A&E is inevitably more hectic but all of the staff – doctors, nurses and orderlies – have without exception been cheerful, kind and attentive. One of the things I noticed in reanimation was that the nurses while presiding over us very efficiently also did a great deal of chatting among themselves and gave the impression of being happy in their work and in their ability to cope. There seemed to be no pressure from understaffing. So the answer to Gyngell’s question would be: quite a lot of mainly young people of both sexes although I doubt they are very well paid. Relations between nurses and doctors were relaxed and collegial. An exception might be hospitals dealing with mental patients where nurses are paid the same and have a much tougher time as well as risking physical violence. It requires special dedication to do that job. Before some smartie boots asks, I got that last bit from the newspapers. I haven’t been sectioned so far.

    • You won’t see the inside of a mental hospital. Not many people do, purely because the funding has been cut to the bone. If you’re mentally ill – and I’ve been there – provided you’re not actually going to kill yourself in the next hour, then you’re very far down the list of people to help. Right at the top are, correctly, people in a very severe state of immediate need, but for those hanging on – just – there’s little in the way of help.

  5. One of my daughters used to want to be a nurse. The lefty assistant head told her not to be so stupid, she was too clever to be a nurse and ought to aim for medicine instead. She told my daughter that she must have low self-esteem because she set her sights so low.

    Said daughter is now reading History with her sole ambition in life to become Busy Mum MkII.

        • Because I’ve yet to meet anyone whose sole aspiration is to be a mother and I’ve been alive for a while.

          • I’ve been fortunate to know lots of brave women and all wanted stuff to cross off before they got to the mother stage.

          • She’s already crossed quite a lot of stuff off, but I know that girls are told that they want to do stuff before the mother stage, so that’s what they think they want or they think that’s what they need to say.

          • She didn’t particularly – she felt she had to. Schools are focused on compiling their lists of leavers’ destinations for the glossy prospectus, you see.

          • I was neutral. I did approve of her taking a gap year (got a one year work contract) but school still wanted to list ‘Gap Year followed by reading X at Y uni.’ She has only ‘come out’ with her ambition since being at uni.

          • She used to want to be a nurse and you have to have A levels for that nowadays…..Don’t you know that education of some sort is compulsory until 18 now?

          • There doesn’t seem much point if she’s just going to have kids. She doesn’t need an education and all that money has been… wasted.

          • Oh, so you think it’s sensible that all the breeding is left to uneducated and maybe less intelligent females? Then you wonder why the next generation is thicker than the last?

            And I agree that there is an awful lot of money being wasted by the state on ‘education’.

          • So that we can be equal partners in our marriages? So that our sons respect us? So that we can be free? Why should men have the monopoly on knowledge?

          • I work all day every day – and I have the intense satisfaction of knowing that the entire benefit of my work goes to my husband, children and the local people, rather than seeing 25%+ of it disappear into the government coffers.

          • Nothing new there. Women have worked hard throughout history to contribute to the basic human needs. Taking in washing and ironing, working in the fields (my grandmother spent every summer picking hops). I work hard in the kitchen producing budget meals – if I went out to work all day we would probably spend more money on food either because we had more money or else because I didn’t have time to be economising in the kitchen….or both.

          • We have to earn money. You could say my partner made a bad choice, a bloke with a mental illness who escaped from evangelical Christianity, but I doubt we’d care.

          • The less Christian this country has become, the harder it has become for two people to live on one wage. Yes, I know correlation isn’t causation…

            We still earn our money – I just do the work that we would pay someone else to do, or else which wouldn’t get done, if I was out contributing to the state coffers. Husband is away tonight for work and I must be up early to pack the lunches – no expensive school canteen dinners for my crowd – so I’m out 🙂

          • Don’t let Guevara reel you in. His purpose is to engage you in the longest exchange possible to disrupt the thread. Their game plan to disrupt dissenting sites was revealed last year on Guido. Block or ignore.

          • He only recently appeared on TCW and at first seemed a reasonable contributor. I had noticed that he seemed to always be on the lookout for a spat.
            Last night was a rare occurrence of me having a bit of time!! Never forget that Busy Mums are battle-hardened when it comes to politely dealing with childlike mentalities…….

          • As in spite of your trolling, you seem a clever chap, I’m sure you could escape from your mental illness if you put a bit of effort into it.

          • p.s. loads of people do not ‘need’ an education. Dustmen, benefits claimants, cleaners, council workmen, celebrities…. maybe even you didn’t need one.

          • I learnt very little at school, and even less at university. My current wide range of knowledge is simply because I am a voracious reader and auto-didact. (No television you see).

          • Oh? She applied for a job and spent the entire year working and paying tax. Result – she is one of the few realists at uni and the least snowflaky person you could imagine. As soon as she told school she was having a gap year, they relaxed the pressure. I have to say that UCAS procedure was far easier with known grades and no interfering teachers.

          • Just spotted your shock at the prospectus. Don’t you know schools are run like businesses now? It’s lots and lots of PR? Whereas pupils/families need to sell themselves to selective schools, comprehensive schools need to sell themselves to pupils/families in order to get more children which equals more money, and preferably more children from ‘nice’ homes who will boost the league table position.

          • I have made use of four secondary schools and visited two others regularly, when making choices for each child. Each school has a prospectus, redesigned every three years or so; each of those schools, except the grammars, has a large working-class element.

          • But not for the boys, though. When you, say, visit the GP and the said GP is a woman, do you feel sorry for her? Refuse to see her?

          • I couldn’t agree more – not only that, schools should run themselves rather than be run by the government.

          • My school doesn’t have one either. It’s a state comp and the only one for miles, so you don’t have much choice. I turned up, got educated and, somewhere along the way, worked out that having A Levels was my route to getting out and getting away. I’ve not been back, but for short visits, since I was 19, and I don’t regret my decision. Life at school was black and white, but for one teacher. Life after it has been Technicolor.

          • Yes, and she seems to be saying that her daughter is bright enough to be a doctor (straight As), but lacks the aspiration. A teacher encourages her to aim higher and the teacher is castigated – apparently teachers should discourage ambition. The girl goes to university, but her ‘sole’ ambition is to be like ‘busy mum’. It’s either complete fantasy or one of the most depressing things I’ve read for ages.

          • Requirements for medical school are set way too high because we don’t train enough doctors, but straight As usually do it. So do you mean her grades weren’t good enough? Or do you get off on talking her down? Why do you resent a teacher trying to encourage her?

          • Wrong subjects at A level!! School tried to pressure her into doing another year of sixth form to take Maths A level – she absolutely hates maths anyway. Her grades are down to sheer hard work, not brains. Don’t pretend that the teacher cared about my daughter – I tell you, the vast majority of them care about only two things; league table position and PRP.

          • School seemed to think it would do the trick combined with her other subjects (incl. Biology) along with her ‘disadvantaged’ status as a pupil from a comp.

          • I’ve gone to university with doctors, have lectured to many and have an offspring as an oral surgeon and believe me when I state that many are not the brightest and, additionally, there are back doors into the profession.

          • When I was in sixth form (top selective girls’ school) I was alarmed at how many of the less-bright girls were applying – and wangling their way – into medicine. Some of them were under pressure to do so from parents (in many cases, Asians). Some of them are now at the top of their fields but I know that they are not as intelligent as me – sounds braggy, but it’s true 🙂

          • Couldn’t disagree with you there. My son was top of his Grammar school and could easily have entered medicine but chose elsewhere, as do many others, but what I find annoying is that the media, especially BBC, interview doctors as if they were gods and know it all.
            I wonder who is dishing out those superfluous antibiotics?

          • That’s a very disparaging way to refer to what has proved itself the most valuable function and achievement of women: the bearing and raising of healthy children. You seem to rate a university education above being a good parent. Are you right to do so? A thousand years from now, it is likely that the vast majority of the work put in by those who regard a top job and loads of money as the most important things in life, will have disappeared into the forgotten dust of history. But what will still be going strong is the genetic legacy of those who invested in their children.

            I am retired after decades of firstly formal education, and then paid employment. None of that has meant anything like as much as seeing my children grow and thrive. They are the best pieces of work I have ever done, or ever could do. Everything else is already fading into oblivion, but now there are grandchildren to carry the torch. That is what will go on and be remembered.

          • Not everyone feels the same way. I have a friend whose aspirations are to keep himself comfortable. He has a good but not spectacular job, works the standard hours and then when he goes home likes listening to his music. He has no children and is of the opinion that, when he dies, he will simply cease to be, so having children is of no interest to him. His genetic legacy, so to speak, will be zero.

          • That’s a disgusting way to refer to motherhood, a role which blesses all of society and the family itself. Without mothers none of us would be here. Do you always speak in such clumsy, oafish terms ?

  6. I wonder if anyone has bothered to check how many of the reported thousands of nurses leaving the NHS are signing on at agencies?

    • Good point. Many do “Agency”. The NHS is still knee deep in “Spanish practices” of all sorts including people doing “Agency” and being on rota. I recognised the veracity of a recent report saying that nurses had had to be pulled off “administrative jobs, special projects, etc.” to respond to recent demand. Well any organisation that is responding to an emergency would. And what are expensively trained nurses doing Administrative jobs?

  7. There was a time when the term SRN after your name was a door to the world. No fancy degree which, in fact, demeans the actual basis of sound nursing. Teaching hospitals, with nurses homes, sister tutors, matrons, ward sisters – producing real nurses. Personal development beyond basic SRN qualification also open.

  8. Kathy, it’s now seven days since I thought I’d ask my neighbour, a very busy consultant in a very busy West Midlands hospital, if there was any truth in current stories about lots of hospital staff taking holidays at this time, but his wife told me he’d gone skiing with his friends. I know that his friends are all medics too so my anecdotal evidence will soon be swept aside by official NHS statistics concerning staffing levels.
    Why so many people in the West Midlands take no exercise whatsoever but expect the NHS to magick them better is another question entirely.

  9. I know little about medicine or hospitals although I recently spent three weeks in one. It strikes me that the reason why someone would want to become a nurse is because they are attracted to the idea of caring for people, as patients. Yet as I saw in hospital they are having to rush around at such speed the working environment must result in them going home at the end of a shift feeling that caring has been impossible. So with their idealism frustrated their job satisfaction must drop. Eventually they either leave the NHS for the private hospitals or they leave nursing altogether. That’s what my observations as a ‘consumer’, plus my ‘feel’ for employment situations, based on years of being a senior manager, albeit in a very different industry, suggest to me.

    • I thought that working in the NHS is like that saying about war. “Long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of intense terror.”

      • As I’ve said I don’t claim any knowledge of hospitals other than as a patient. But I didn’t see much “boredom” during my recent stay there. However I saw plenty of over-busy nurses. The exception was during the night shift when obviously, patients were mostly asleep. But I can see how your saying would apply to certain wartime military jobs.

  10. If you have a degree, why would you want to change bedpans. If you don’t have a degree but want to care for people including changing bed pans then sorry, we don’t want you.

    • Just ridiculous that a degree is required for nursing when it worked well in the past with training on the job and then the nurses were probably more knowledgeable and efficient!

  11. My wife and myself are under the perception that many nurses,unlike the media portrayal, don’t work extremely hard as when we’re in or visiting hospital there are many hanging around a central area or simply looking at monitors or filling in forms rather than being with the patients.
    Beyond time of abandoning the mighty nursing degree and reverting to ward training with additional study sessions.

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