Editorial

Nurses should be wary of accepting gifts from patients

Whether you are offered a fresh fish, gardening tools or a wad of cash, the NMC has a policy for nurses about accepting presents from patients.

There are few perks to being a nurse. The pay is poor, the working conditions often challenging and the pension is not what it once was.

At the same time, patients have never been so demanding, with expectations sometimes being unreasonable.

From time to time, however, someone in your care or members of their family are so grateful that they bring you a box of chocolates, a bunch of flowers or a packet of biscuits. All of these can be gratefully received with thanks. But what happens when the gift is more generous, say a wad of cash or a Rolex watch?

Something fishy

And how should you respond if the gift is a little more unusual? A Nursing Standard investigation has uncovered examples of nurses being given jars of jam, a trout, an origami set and even a garden hose by people who wanted to say thank you.

It is not always possible to decline such offers – in one case an envelope containing £50 in cash was left in the staff room without a note – and to do so may cause offence. Yet the Nursing and Midwifery Council code of conduct is clear, stating that registrants must refuse all ‘but the most trivial of gifts’, as they could be seen as an attempt to gain preferential treatment.

Nursing Standard’s resident legal adviser, Marc Cornock, also urges caution, notwithstanding concerns that refusing to accept a gift could damage relations with the patient. So however tasty the trout might look, and however parched your lawn might be, it is always safer to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. 

 

Cash, a trout, Rolex watch and garden hose among gifts offered to NHS staff, Nursing Standard reveals

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