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Matt Hancock draws fire for claiming some nurses stand up when a doctor enters the room

Nursing community takes to social media to accuse health secretary of ‘spouting rubbish’

Nursing community takes to social media to accuse health secretary of ‘spouting rubbish’

Health secretary’s comments presented an outdated view of nurses’ subservience to doctors. 
Picture: Alamy

Health secretary Matt Hancock has been accused of talking ‘nonsense’ after claiming some nurses still have to stand up when a doctor enters the room in some NHS organisations.

Some nurses and doctors have claimed he is out of touch with modern multidisciplinary working.

‘Antiquated’ behaviour

Mr Hancock made the comments in a speech at the chief nursing officer (CNO) for England’s summit in Birmingham yesterday, where he praised the hard work and dedication of nurses.

‘I find it shocking that, in my grandmother’s day, nurses were expected to stand up when a doctor entered the room,’ he said.

‘And worse, I find that’s still the case in some antiquated, archaic corners of the NHS. I want it to stop. If anything, it should be doctors standing up for nurses.’

Mr Hancock added that it was a throwback to the days when his grandmother, Pem Hills, was a nurse at the Pilgrim Hospital in Lincolnshire.

Facebook feedback

Dozens of readers had their say on the Nursing Standard Facebook page.

Linda McCarthy wrote: ‘Nearly all doctors I’ve worked with have a great amount of respect for us nurses, and we work well as a team. Matt Hancock spouting rubbish again!’

‘I’ve been a nurse in the [NHS] on and off since 1978 and have never seen this happen and I’ve never done it,’ wrote Sue Crocombe.

Solid teamwork

Emma Hucker wrote: ‘Did he visit a hospital in the 1930's?? We all work as a team! Shows he knows nothing about current nursing issues whatsoever! Safe staffing, better pay, recognition for what we actually do are a few hints Matt Hancock!!’

‘Did anyone give him the memo about multidisiplinary working now?’ wrote Amanda M Dee.

24/7 care

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, had this to say on Twitter:

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said she saw nursing and medical staff ‘working in partnership together, which has brought huge benefits for the health service’. She added that a bigger issue was filling workforce vacancies.

Nursing leadership

Mr Hancock also told the CNO summit: ‘Nurses often make better leaders than doctors because you understand that caring for your staff is mission-critical for caring for your patients.

‘You know hierarchy can be a hinderance to improvement.’


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