Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Fact: Richard Branson is figurehead of Virgin Health, a private health concern.

Fact: Richard Branson's daughter, who works in the same company (why help every patient when you can just help the rich ones who can afford it?) has recently been in the news in a positive light.

Fact: Richard Branson is advising the NHS.

All three of these facts resolve themselves into an big, fat truth, unfortunately. In the above story, There are two moronic, but quite funny, facts to pick up from the story. Firstly, Beardie complains government ministers mess around with health policy too much before... yes. Saying how he wants to fiddle with health policy. His grand scheme is to test (presumably by swab x3) every single person who works in the health service for MRSA. Not only would this be massively time consuming (compared to, I don't know, maybe HAND WASHING) it would also put a huge strain on the resources of microbiology. Saying that, perhaps Beardie would put the contracts out to tender. Perhaps Virgin Health would get them...

His second - most hilarious - point is that the health service could learn a lot from the airline and train industries. I don't know a huge amount about the airline industry, but - as any fule does know (or Private Eye reader, for that matter) Beardie makes large bags of cash from Virgin Trains. Most of this cash doesn't come from actually running the trains. It comes from contract negotiation and gobbling up appetising subsidies. Maybe that is his point, then. Perhaps the health service should be sold off to private concerns (at a snip, for them) and continue with massive problems in the infrastructure (whilst all the separate companies complain that beds aren't actually their problem) remaining unaddressed whilst the companies still grow fat off of massive public subsidies. Once they had their finger in this pie, they could justify increases in the cost of subcutaneous injections by whining about the price of oil, leaves on the lines of their delivery trains (private, of course) and, of course, the state of the economy!


Saturday, 20 December 2008

Term Over.

Yes, indeed. Hark! The herald angels have thought it fit to see me through to the end of a term with my sanity intact. Or something like that.


I've felt the past, compacted week has been something of a waste of time. Except for swapping experiences about placement, which only took about an hour, it was pretty benign. Two lectures were made worse by either: a lecturer not knowing how to use a computer properly, or a computer malfunction. One of these sessions basically involved watching 'Inside I'm Dancing' and reflecting on it. Which was certainly strange as a University experience.

Another involved debating nursing in relation to abuse of the vulnerable. To fence this into a 2 hour session seems a bit harsh, since it's a massive problem. Abuse by carers, professionals, other patients. Horrid subject matter, of course, but something that must be faced. By the end of it the lecturer, who is self-admittedly "old school" (but I like her), said she had faith in us as the subject got us all so upset. She said she still loved nursing after decades in the trade, and if that wasn't an indication of how burn outs don't always happen, nothing was. Useful session, perhaps, but over too soon.

And now it's the Christmas break. Eating, drinking, being merry and of course studying. I'll have to work on accomplishing all four.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Right to Choose

It's not rocket science.

I've just came back from my morning lecture with an extended break, so thought I'd hit a few points that are on my mind. I'll go onto the ever contentious issue of abortion soon. A quick couple before, though.

The AM lecture was unfortunately cut short, but I'm quite glad. The course has tried to make a session on the massive problem of domestic violence into half a session, which I think is plain offensive. It would've been the arse end of the session, too, which is when most of the morons I sit in lecture theatres with are itching to stop learning and go for their second overpriced cup of coffee of the day. They don't have any money, obviously.

Staying on the point of the sections of my year group who don't seem to care much for the learning part of learning, I was quite amused to be sat in front of a row of girls (actually quite young, in respect to the average age of someone on my course) who talked all the way through the lecture. And I mean talk. Not whisper. And it's not even a big lecture theatre. It amused me more than it disturbed me, to tell the truth, as I can actually multi-task. But I feel bad for the lecturer (a person I quite like) who shouldn't really have to work with the behaviour generally reserved for a group of Year 11 girls sat at the back of a R.E. class. I've made a mental note to sit closer to the front, just in case. Anyway, the girls were shouted at (in hushed tones) by other colleagues, to much cringing and looking away. Funny old world, certainly. This afternoon's session is ran by someone with much more strength of character, shall we say? It should be interesting.

During the AM session, though, an idea came up. Can a nurse be an advocate if a patient is partaking in something they do not agree with? Should they feel guilty if they don't? The side of the room featuring me has to say a nurse shouldn't feel guilty, and we moved onto abortion. Boy, did I end up biting my tongue.

If someone doesn't agree with abortion on 'moral' grounds, or out of some other personal opinion, then fine. Feel free. But once, /especially/ as a nurse, you start to press your own opinions onto someone, onto someone's choices and treatments, you're so wrong it's untrue. I think smoking is a silly idea. Not a 'sin', or against the view of some great deity who may or may not existed, just silly. I do not, however, state clearly that I think someone should be denied treatment because of this choice (which will harm them and do very little good, so is almost against my stance on the 4 pillars of ethical practice) they've made. If someone has had an Myocardial Infarct and subsequently needed a CABG (a 'bypass') to repair it and yet continues smoking I would not deny them treatment, or deny them (in the above case) my advocacy. Nurses don't get to choose who they help in this country, and that's a good thing. Murderer, paedophile, terrorist - nurses should not be casting judgement which will influence their care and treatment on any patients who come their way.

EDIT: It was sad to see and hear most of the anti-choicers bringing out familiar old anecdotes from the Nadine Dorries school of fearmongering. Dead babies, floating in toilets and in kidney dishes, or maybe still alive, gasping for air. Same old biased bullshit, which does in no way reflect the wide range of cases, issues and types of abortion. And portrays abortion, as well as the woman who make such a choice, in a negative, prejudiced light. I was sad, but not surprised. Fear is a powerful tool.

My stance on abortion is similar to my standpoint on most life choices. Noone else matters except the person making the choice. I don't care if, in this example, a baby could survive outside the womb at 2 weeks. That's immaterial. It's the woman in questions right to choose. Not rocket science. The fact that I've met several student nurses who seem to think this isn't the case is downright wrong. Advocates, as it states we should be in the Code, nevermind ethical practice, they are not.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Update: Cretins

I have been told, officially, to not speaking to a colleague "as if they're stupid". This, as the previous post will back up, is incredibly difficult when they are, in fact, stupid. Call me old fashioned.

Basically, we were having a debate about blood pressure and it all boiled over (ho ho). A theoretical patient had a blood pressure of 80/60 and someone was implying that this was a sign of cardiogenic shock. I said his was bollocks (in a more polite way) as I've met patients who are quite lucid and /not/ in CGS with such blood pressures. Someone argued with me, which was a bad idea. I asked them, point blank: "What is hypertension?". I probably used the term 'high blood pressure', since they do not like big words. For which the above accusation was levelled.

I don't really care, anymore. The tutor backed up the opinion of a colleague and I - that is to say that such a blood pressure is not indicative of cardiogenic shock. I argued he had a history of hypertension and was medicated for it, which agreed with the above opinion. But, voracious as I was, I made few friends. M'bothered, am I? Not really.

These people I learn with, the people who don't want to hear big words, are one of the reasons nursing doesn't advance as it could and should do. Their attitude adds to negative views towards nurses, in my opinion, which is something along the lines of what this idiot believes. On top of this, I don't think it's my role to dumb down my own learning to a level in which I don't learn. This is the same group who I, being the only one with cardiology experience last year, offered supplementary sessions to. Out of the kindness of my heart, no less! Funny old world.


... fuckwits. I worry about nurse education quite constantly, honestly. I have just finished a placement which, at times, may have been boring, but there was no shortage of learning opportunities. The staff themselves were constantly engaged in their own learning, as well as mine. Now I'm back to Uni? Ick.

In the past, student nurses I know have complained about the use of big words. A qualified nurse I worked with said working on a coronary unit involved "too much thinking". I shit you not.

I have just got out of a session (something I have to go back to) in which people I should respect espoused the idea that a Mentor (that is to say, a registered nurse who is guiding your learning on a ward) should teach you basic A&P if you're too pig ignorant to go out and learn it yourself. Sweet. Mentors are supposed to do this in between being overworked, overhoured and underpaid, apparently. Forget about independent learning, forget about guided learning. This is learning-on-a-plate. And here's me thinking that should've been left back in primary school.

N.B. A mentor should certainly assess your knowledge on a subject, and work from there. But if your knowledge is low, that is neither his/her fault, not is it his/her core responsibility to teach you what you don't know. My best ever mentor figure would ask me what a drug did. If I didn't know, I'd ask. She was fully prepared to answer, but would first tell me: "You know where the BNF is..." which is exactly the ways things should be done. My cretinous colleagues don't seem to realise this.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


With Leave, as opposed to the other kind.

I went home to see my family, specifically my nephews. For the second time in a month my youngest ended up giving me a 24-hour vomit and malaise bug. Wrapping arms around the toilet at 4am on Sunday? Not fun.

As NHS doctrine dictates, I have to stay off until 48-hours have elapsed since the last symptoms. Since then, I've got better and then got bored. I should've done more studying today, when I've felt a lot better (thanks for asking) but didn't. I won't lose myself any sleep over it.

It's good, though, in a roundabout way, to be sick. I'm not sure nurses would be good at their jobs if they didn't have reasonably frequent reminders of how shitty symptoms can make you feel, as well as the repercussions. I originally got into nursing due to the fact I was ill when I was young. The reason I almost got into child nursing.

So, looking on the bright side, it's not all bad!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Health Promotion in Action

I've had an optimistic couple of days on the Health Promotion front. It's fun. This might have something to do with the fact that I finished before 1pm on each, but let's not be cynical.

On Tuesday I spent the morning with the team's Occupational Therapist (OT). Now, from the outset I'm pretty biased. I bloody love Occupational Therapy. I love the primary idea. It can be really basic, or really clever, and when it is facilitated well it can really improve people's lives. The OT I was with is very talented and experienced and we had a good chat about the ins and outs of OT within cardiology. We then went out - in the bloody snow, and I was already soaked through - to help a patient fit a bath seat. One of these zany electric things with suckers and whirring gears. That went smoothly, we had a chat and she expressed gratitude that we'd been able to help. A good visit, all in all.

Today I went to a real community setting, a church hall no less! Exercise classes for people post-MI go on there, at personal expense to the attendees. I'll vent on that later. The leader for the group was one of the most cheery, positive people I've ever met, which obviously helps things. Both groups knew each other, and on further questioning some of them had been attending for 12 years or more! No wonder, then. The exercise was pretty light, but given some of them were in their 80s that's no surprise. It is, rather cleverly, arranged into three levels, which makes it plenty accessible. Level One is quite sated, whilst Level Three generally uses whole body moves. It was an excellent learning opportunity, really. I got to speak to the leader about the classes and the reasons attendees value them, and then I got to check this out by speaking to the people themselves. They were all lovely, and told me the classes were both enjoyable and useful.

The major bee in my bonnet is the fact that they have to pay. These classes are bi-weekly, for an hour and a half each. One member of staff is required. The classes are in a church hall. I'm not seeing how they could be massively expensive. The classes are uber-useful. Not only do they allow people to exercise, warding off further MIs and other linked problems, but they encourage people to exercise outside of class. More importantly, the classes double up as a support group. People with similar problems getting together. Level Ones can find similar people to do the circuit with. If Level One A is a bit further down the road to recovery than Level One B they can talk about it. They get bloody enthusiastic about finding out about their conditions, which is one of the most important parts of Health Promotion!

And yet the PCT refuses to fund it. Good job, you cretinous fuckwits.