The Liberal Democrat member of the Commons Health Select Committee, Andrew George MP, commented on the tragic death of King Edward Hospital nurse, Mrs Jacintha Saldanha, after being contacted by the national media at the weekend. Mr George has campaigned in Parliament for better understanding of the role of registered nurses and for mandatory nurse to patient ratios on acute hospital wards.
On Radio 4’s PM programme on Saturday evening Mr George criticised some media outlets engaged in desperate ratings wars of being prepared to go to almost any lengths – even to the point of duping an innocent nurse into “breaching patient confidentiality”.
The MP for the West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives said:
“This may just seem a bit of a laugh for media presenters, but professional nurses seek to uphold the highest standards, including that of protecting patient confidentiality. To dupe a nurse in that way and then to broadcast it is irresponsible beyond words.
“Many in the nursing profession are feeling demoralised as some in the media seem determined to demonise the whole nursing profession. They are trained clinicians with a proud tradition and are not trained to handle the world media spotlight, especially if merely part of an irresponsible prank.
“Nurses just want to concentrate on the very demanding core tasks of clinical safety for their patients. They want to work with patients’ families on the basis of trust. This event has the capacity to undermine that trust, and is likely to add further burdens of additional risk, caution and suspicion which will get in the way of the essential relationship they need to develop with the families.
“Nurses should be allowed to concentrate on their core tasks rather than having to build new protections against potential irresponsible pranksters in the media. If the outcome of this is that new protocols, targets and form filling are required to avoid such situations happening again then it will simply create yet another unwelcome bureaucratic burden and hurdle which will deflect nurses from getting on with the challenging task they already have.”
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