Readers’ panel: Are older nurses more likely to have problems with their performance?


Readers’ panel: Are older nurses more likely to have problems with their performance?

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The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s equality and diversity report for 2015-16 revealed that four out of five nurses struck off the register were aged over 40. Older nurses represent 66% of the workforce, but made up 76% of new cases sent to the regulator last year. Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say

Four out of five nurses struck off the register in 2015 were aged over 40. Picture: Alamy

Lauren Ferrier is a nursing student in Scotland

Lauren Ferrier

While statistically it is shocking that four in five nurses struck off the NMC register were over 40, there may be many intrinsic and contextual factors contributing to this. If older nurses are experiencing additional pressure related to their age, steps have to be taken to support them. However, the older nurses I have worked with have been incredibly experienced, knowledgeable and professional. 


Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London 

Drew Payne

I am 50, and although I find nursing more physically demanding than I did at 24, I now have 26 years worth of experience, knowledge and skill to draw on. Many older nurses work in the independent sector, which makes me question whether these organisations are using the NMC’s fitness to practice process instead of internal disciplinary procedures. These figures should ring alarm bells with the NMC, which has a duty of non-discrimination. Why hasn’t it acted on this already? 


Linda Drake is a practice nurse in south London 

Linda Drake
As a nurse fast approaching retirement, I find it distressing to ponder the personal stories behind these statistics. Many older nurses may be employed as community nurses, and practice nurses often work in isolation. This makes it difficult to negotiate time for training and education and means clinical supervision is rarely available. It is tragic when an exemplary career ends in ignominy for an older nurse, and while we all bear responsibility for providing high quality patient care, this group may need additional support to do so. 


Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London 

Rachel Kent
Reading this question, I wondered whether the focus was wrong: is it the performance of older nurses or the support available that is at fault? How can more experienced nurses ensure they are up to date in their practice when they do not get time to do training? How can more experienced nurses care for others when they struggle to care for themselves and their own families? Is it their performance or the performance of the NHS that is failing?

Readers' panel members give their views in a personal capacity only