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Thursday 18 December 2014

Mail NHS Nurse Rant Continues

Yesterday’s typically slanted Daily Mail lead story, claiming that thousands of nurses were being recruited from abroad despite their allegedly “struggling” with the English language, has been continued today, with the headline thundering “As 4 in 5 new nurses are foreign ... 80,000 UK STUDENTS TOLD: YOU CAN’T TRAIN AS A NURSE”. And, once again, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
What stupid f***er wants to go NHS anyway, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

Once again the Mail pushes this line: “Last month the Mail visited a recruitment fair in Porto, Portugal, where Bedford Hospital hired 25 nurses. They were offered contracts without any formal English tests and some were even given help filling in the application form”. This, not to put too fine a point on it, is bullshit. As I noted yesterday, knowing English is a requirement.

The Mail claimed that nurses from overseas could register as nurses without knowing the language, and this is true, but that does not mean they then walk into a job. As one of my commenters noted, “you need to make sure that you have sufficient knowledge of English in order to practise professionally (article 53 of the directive). Employers will expect this and have the right to require evidence of English language competence to ensure that they employ nurses and midwives who are able to communicate effectively”.
So that’s one way the Mail slants its copy. Another is the idea that 80,000 want to train as nurses, but are being turned away. What the Mail does not tell is what other jobs or training the 80,000 have applied for – it is hardly exceptional for those seeking work to apply for several career options at once.

So the assertion “80,000 UK students told: you can’t train as a nurse” is, as with so many Mail headlines, not supported by the article it headlines. And there is something else that those keen on sums and statistics may have homed in on, and that is that there is a significant difference between the claim of 80,000 wanting to train as nurses, and under 6,000 coming to the NHS from abroad.

Even if all vacant posts could be filled from trainee nurses, that would just mean another 5,800 Brits employed as nurses. So in those circumstances, perhaps the Mail would like to rework its headline to read “74,200 UK STUDENTS TOLD: YOU CAN’T TRAIN AS A NURSE”, only without the ability to claim all the jobs were going to candidates from other EU member states.

But no, all readers are served up is the same bile: “Figures released on Tuesday show that hospitals hired 5,778 foreign nurses last year, up from 1,360 the year before ... There are fears that severe staffing shortages are leading managers to lower the bar for recruits’ English skills”. Get some evidence, Mail people, and just once in your lives stop lying to your readers.


Phil said...

I think there is probably a legitimate issue about student nurse places being cut under the pressures of austerity, combined with hospitals belatedly discovering that when you run down nurse staffing, problems multiply, forcing them to hurriedly recruit - with the result that they're forced to go overseas to look for staff.

Though obviously that's not how the Fail have presented it here, going instead for their usual rhetoric about Nasty Furrenners.

It's also fair to say that some proportion of those 80,000 people who've been turned down for nursing courses would have been rejected because they simply weren't suitable. Nursing is a difficult, demanding and (despite the "too clever to care" slogans) brain-taxing profession, and not everyone who wants to be a nurse should be a nurse.

SteveB said...

Presumably the 80,000 are spread over a number of years - I don't believe for one minute that there was ever a single queue that long, or the admin staff to turn them all down in one year!

But even so, "students" turned down as nurses implies that they were already on courses, 80,000 already in training to be nurses turned down? Even less believable. Unless they thought nursing was like banking or journalism - you get a completely irrelevant degree and then turn up and ask for a job.

Dare I ask whether the Mail will look into the effects of tuition fees on the numbers of student nurses (and other health jobs)?

Anonymous said...

I believe the problem of a shortage of nurses was due to Mr Major taking all nurse training out of the NHS and into Universities. I trained as and SEN in the 70s and my training in the NHS was second to none. With experience on the wards I became a person with empathy, understanding and provided the highest care. What has happened to our once fantastic NHS training? When I worked in a nursing home in Lancashire in 2003, I was a mentor for a student who was training at Uni for 3 years. When she came to the home I had to teach her how to give someone a wash, mouthcare, bed bath, drug dosage and injections etc - what on earth was that about? In our six week training in an NHS nursing school we had to know all this and pass assessments before we were even allowed on the wards!