NHS bosses should know nurses are not doctors and could never take their place

[Image: Science Photo Library.]

[Image: Science Photo Library.]

If you think this is a good idea, here are two words to make you think again: Mission drift.

Nurses are not equivalent to doctors. If they were, they would be called doctors.

Nurses are therefore not as well-trained as doctors. Who would take the blame if they were asked to handle a situation for which they weren’t qualified, and it went wrong?

Nurses are not as well-paid as doctors. This means the NHS could end up using them as a way of saving money, when it should be focusing on patients’ care needs.

The same goes for paramedics and pharmacists. This seems a cynical attempt to bypass striking doctors by providing a lower standard of care and passing it off as reasonable. It isn’t.

It is the thin end of a very nasty wedge. As Peter Stefanovic pointed out on Twitter: “Mr Hunt would have hospital porters performing brain surgery if he could!”

This is what happens when the accountants running the NHS start to outnumber people with real medical experience.

For the NHS, the answer is simple: Let nurses be nurses. Let paramedics and pharmacists do their jobs.

Above all, let doctors be doctors, within a framework of the right pay and conditions of work.

Nurses, paramedics and pharmacists should be trained to fill in for doctors and help the NHS in England cope with demand, bosses say.

Management body NHS Employers has given the plan the green light after advisers said there were a range of extra tasks they could do with more training.

A Nuffield Trust review found examples of nurses filling in for hospital doctors and pharmacists for GPs.

But unions warned against using it as a quick fix for problems in the NHS.

Source: ‘Train NHS staff’ to plug doctor gaps, bosses say – BBC News


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10 thoughts on “NHS bosses should know nurses are not doctors and could never take their place

  1. Steven E James

    SO, nurses are to be given even more responsibility. Will they get a raise?

  2. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    Yes Mike! You state what should be obvious to everyone with any intelligence at all. I hope you don’t think that a criticism of your comment because it is only a criticism of those who don’t back up your point.

  3. David Woods

    They are already doing this without the ‘re-training’!
    ‘Alleged’ nurses are already making decisions only trained Doctors should make with regards to ATOS work capability assessments!

    I say ‘alleged’ because none have any certification showing their capability to assess medical conditions and according to the BMA they are only employed as ‘advisors’ not as medics!

  4. paulrutherford8

    I don’t suppose the ‘bosses’ suggested that the nurses ought to also have a nice payrise to compensate them for the huge increase in responsibilities they would have to bear?

  5. Christine Cullen

    It happened in education with Teaching Assistants being asked by some Headteachers to supervise classes, and then to cover for Teachers engaged in planning, prep and assessment times out of the classroom. And now we have unqualified teachers in academies and free schools, all courtesy of the Tories. It was a long, hard battle for teachers in the 60s to get the profession a degreed profession and now look!
    Beware our NHS; we are well down the slippery slope, probably in more ways than we realise. Of course there will be Teaching Assistants and Specialist Nurses who will do a good job, but they are not as qualified as a teacher or doctor, and will not necessarily recognise a situation where professional expertise or intervention could be crucial. They are just a cheap option to justify running down the NHS finances even more.

  6. david

    This is nothing new though Mike, the role of the qualified nurse has been expanding into the domain of doctors work for years. ECG interpretation, reviewing blood results, cannulation etc – once the domain of the doctor are now fairly common nursing tasks. Now obviously for nurses these come on top of their other basic care duties and without increases to pay. Not that I agree with the government – far from it. But it has been NHS mission creep for years , same as the extension of the role of auxiliary nurses/ HCA’s [ ie allowed to take ‘observations’ until people died due to them not informing other staff of significant changes, then reintroduced, then stopped again after more deaths, now back in practice]

  7. Jane.

    I don’t know the details of this but the outline is not a new idea. Jobs being passed to other grades eg nurses prescribing medications in certain cases, nurses prescribing blood transfusion, Consultant grade BMS in my own profession. These may work out as individuals are always keen to expand job roles and horizons. Professional bodies are also involved. They can be good, they must never be a cheap option choice. Training (MSc/PhD) and career path role and responsibilities along with pay must be established to see whether it is feasible. But, as warned, this is not a quick fix solution for the NHS. This is staff training and investment.

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