Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Personal views

What's wrong with the wards?

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 11 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:97
  1. Katherine Teale, consultant anaesthetist
  1. 1Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, Manchester M20 3JS

    One of the more depressing moments in my week came when I overheard a conversation between two surgical trainees. “I'm covering the ward today,” said one disgruntled young man. “I always get the crap jobs.” His colleague was suitably sympathetic at this terrible misfortune. When I teach the medical students they seem fired up with the desire to help people. When does this become limited to wanting to cut bits out of people, send them back to the ward, and forget about them?

    It's not just the doctors' problem. The Royal College of Nursing recently warned that cuts in nursing jobs are putting patients' lives at risk. Certainly understaffing is a serious issue—but my experience of many wards is that there seems to be an invisible barrier between the nursing station and the patient areas. Nurses only cross this to do a specific task, and then scurry back to the paperwork as quickly as possible. Recent figures show that three of the four …

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