Comment

Jane Bates: A quiet shift? Please don't utter the ‘q’ word

Certain words are just unacceptable to nurses.

Certain words are just unacceptable to nurses

Labour will put a stop to bad language, I heard in the run-up to the election. Quite right too, I thought. All that effing and blinding. Totally unnecessary. Then I realised they had said bad landlords, not bad language. Must make that audiology appointment

Nurses, of course, have a different take on bad language. Certain words, to us, are totally unacceptable. The word reform, for instance, in the same sentence as NHS means daft ideas imposed on us by people who have no inkling about patient care, but are paid loads to think they do. Then there is the word Brexit. We are not sure yet, but it could mean a rise in the cost of Prosecco. Wash your mouth out for even thinking

...

Certain words are just unacceptable to nurses

jane bates q word
Mind your language – some words are seen as a jinx.  Picture: iStock

‘Labour will put a stop to bad language,’ I heard in the run-up to the election. Quite right too, I thought. All that effing and blinding. Totally unnecessary. Then I realised they had said ‘bad landlords’, not ‘bad language’. Must make that audiology appointment…

Nurses, of course, have a different take on bad language. Certain words, to us, are totally unacceptable. The word ‘reform’, for instance, in the same sentence as ‘NHS’ means daft ideas imposed on us by people who have no inkling about patient care, but are paid loads to think they do. Then there is the word ‘Brexit’. We are not sure yet, but it could mean a rise in the cost of Prosecco. Wash your mouth out for even thinking it.

Worst offender

But the worst one is ‘quiet’. Euphemistically known as the ‘q’ word, language doesn’t get more offensive than this.

It is usually uttered by the inexperienced who are then so shocked by the reaction from other staff that they have to retire, traumatised, to the utility room. ‘Isn’t it quiet today?’ they say, innocently, and then immediately there ensues an unleashing of unprecedented life-and-death crises, and as a result, cataclysmic levels of stress for the nurses involved. The person who has let the ‘q’ word sully their lips then gets to stay late for jinxing the whole shift.

Never mind landlords and language – I heard that Labour has also promised a decent pay rise for NHS workers. Surely not. My ears are deceiving me again.


 

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs