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RCN and NMC hit back at ‘misguided and disrespectful’ newspaper column

The heads of the RCN and Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have written to a national newspaper to complain about the negative portrayal of nurses in one of its columns.
column

The heads of the RCN and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have complained to a newspaper over a column that contained a 'misguided and disrespectful' portrayal of nurses.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies and NMC chief executive Jackie Smith had a joint letter published in the Sunday Times in response to a column it carried the previous week.

Under the headline 'Nurse, Ive come over all peculiar... I dont think youre worth more than Gary Lineker', columnist Rod Liddle gave his opinion on BBC stars salaries being revealed.

He wrote: Should anyone ever be paid more than nurses? They may know almost nothing about medicine but they will empty your bedpan and mess around with your drip for a while, until someone more senior comes along.

Misguided and disrespectful

Later in the piece he said: Anyway nurses can get

The heads of the RCN and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have complained to a newspaper over a column that contained a 'misguided and disrespectful' portrayal of nurses.

column

RCN general secretary Janet Davies and NMC chief executive Jackie Smith had a joint letter published in the Sunday Times in response to a column it carried the previous week.

Under the headline 'Nurse, I’ve come over all peculiar... I don’t think you’re worth more than Gary Lineker', columnist Rod Liddle gave his opinion on BBC stars’ salaries being revealed.

He wrote: ‘Should anyone ever be paid more than nurses? They may know almost nothing about medicine but they will empty your bedpan and mess around with your drip for a while, until someone more senior comes along.’

Misguided and disrespectful

Later in the piece he said: ‘Anyway — nurses can get more than £40,000 for being quite helpful in hospitals. That’s rather more than most of the researchers on the Jeremy Vine show get, who are probably a lot better qualified.’

In response, Ms Davies and Ms Smith said they must 'take exception when damaging claims are made about nursing' and called the claims relating to nurse training 'misguided and disrespectful'.

They concluded: 'Nursing staff will remain at the fore of healthcare as it rises to the challenge of an ageing population with increasingly complex care needs. Their work must not be belittled.’

Important to society

The newspaper also published two other letters responding to the same column.

Lynne Appleyard wrote: 'Rod Liddle’s remarks about nurses “being quite helpful in hospitals” are a disgrace. Nurses are graduates, work long hours, and those in intensive care deal with life-and-death situations. Should there come a time when Liddle is ill, he may then reflect that nurses are more important to society than journalists such as himself.'

However, Nilay Sah praised Mr Liddle's article, calling it 'cracking', but questioned his claim that NHS consultants earn the same as the £700,000 Mr Vine is reported to earn at the BBC. He said consultants actually earn closer to £100,000 a year.

RCN/NMC letter in full

‘As the chief executives of the regulator and the professional body for the UK’s nursing staff we wish to register our concern at the comments made by Liddle.

‘We expect columnists to air strong opinions and respect that freedom. However, we must take exception when damaging claims are made about nursing.

‘Liddle seems unaware, or unwilling to reflect, that nursing is a graduate profession. To suggest that, after three years of training, nurses are limited in the way he describes — “they will empty your bedpan and mess around with your drip” — is misguided and disrespectful.

‘Nurses can prescribe drugs, perform minor surgery and are responsible for delivering 80% of patient care.

‘He also uses an unrecognisable figure of a salary of £40,000. After 10 years, nurses can expect to earn about £29,000 a year.

‘Nursing staff will remain at the fore of healthcare as it rises to the challenge of an ageing population with increasingly complex care needs. Their work must not be belittled.’


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