The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Posted Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 18:57

I was shocked today to read the following statistic that the number of people being discharged from hospital in a malnourished state has increased by 146% since Labour came to power in 1997.


I was shocked, but not surprised. It doesn’t take anything more than a little common sense to understand how we have arrived at this situation and just a little more to know how to put it right.


But first, let’s just remind ourselves of a few simple truths. Patients are admitted into hospital to be made better. Given the advances in medical science and the need for as many patients as possible to be treated at home or in the community due to the threat of MRSA (another story), those patients you do find in hospital today tend to be very poorly.


Advances in engineering such as safety features in cars, air bags and side impact protection mean that only the very serious RTA results in long periods of hospitalization and so the situation is that those people who are lying in a hospital bed need the very best care.


A hospital bed should be a very safe place. Nurses are expected to be compassionate and caring and should have both the time and motivation to be so. Wards used to be calm quiet places within which a nurse got to know her patient well. Today they are bustling busy places with almost 24hr visiting and a constant flow of traffic in and out (a contributing factor to MRSA)


It's time to bring back the auxiliary nurses. The non-qualified nurse who loved to wear her uniform with pride and simply enjoyed the patient contact. They used to be responsible for filling in the patients diet requirements, making sure the food arrived correctly, as ordered from the kitchen and then if the patient required, helped kindly with feeding. They provided the friendly banter, talked through patient’s worries and concerns and they were never hampered by a constant throng of people coming and going.


They cleaned bedside lockers, helped with toileting, made sure sheets were changed, linen cupboards were full, cleaned up the accidents, chatted to and motivated ward cleaners and were like the worker bee’s; they kept everyone happy and everything ship shape freeing the qualified nurses to tend to dressings, medications, theater cases and all the other jobs which requires the attention of a qualified nurse.


They dominated the ward kitchen. Always offered the relatives of very poorly patient cups of tea and a hand to hold or as hug and looked after the broken hearts of student nurses.


I remember on night shift at Warrington Infirmary how the night auxiliary always used to bring me milky coffee and toast at 6am when I sat down to start writing the night report, that was just before she began sorting the breakfasts for 30 or so patients. They were the ward mums.


We need to return to that deeper level of patient care. It’s what in political speak we refer to as front-line care. However, it cannot be reached until the wards are once again empty of  permenant visitors. Until a healing environment returns, until the authority of a ward sister or charge nurse (I really dislike the term manager) is paramount –until we bring back the army of ward mums, until we accept and acknowledge that hospital wards are a sanctuary and a place for the sick and vulnerable to be returned to health, and until we acknowledge that the delivery of care is delivered by people, not managers. People who should care for patients as though they are their very own flesh and blood and take a pride in discharging patients in a healthier and better nourished state than when they arrived.


Not half starved as the case appears to be today.

Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at:
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

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