Saturday, 3 January 2015

Correspondence on letters page of UK Daily Telegraph 16-22 December 2014

This is a recent trail of correspondence from the letters page of the UK broadsheet right of centre newspaper The Daily Telegraph.  There were several letters on 18 December 2014 alongside Professor Dame Jessica Corner's which were negative and trivial, which I do not include.  The Daily Telegraph is no friend of university educated nurses and it was a major achievement for Professor Corner to have her excellent letter published where so many of us have failed to get into these pages with a positive view of university educated nurses.  Note how the final letter in the trail is negative, coming long after the event but by an FRCS - so he must know what he is talking about:

16 December 2014

SIR – Has it occurred to the UK nursing authorities that the current university-based training system may be a significant disincentive for those interested in a nursing career?
It certainly was for our daughter, an ideal candidate, who was discouraged by a further three years in academic study after successful completion of her A-levels.

John Kellie
Pyrford, Surrey

17 December 2014

SIR – John Kellie is right to question the usefulness of a three-year stint at university for those contemplating a nursing career (Letters, December 16).
The excellent ward sisters I encountered during the 13 years I chaired an NHS Trust had learnt their profession effectively as apprentices straight from school.
Young people not pursuing higher education should go to their local hospital to try nursing for three months. If they are still interested after looking after patients’ most basic and personal needs, they most likely will make the grade and stick with the job instead of aspiring to pseudo-management positions that have almost nothing to do with hands-on care.
Introducing degrees has changed the nursing profession.

Peter Hayes 
Siddington, Cheshire

18 December 2014
Jessica Corner

SIR – It is a myth that degree-level education for nurses is bad for patient care (Letters, December 17). A study of nurses in 11 European countries (including England) by RN4CAST, the research group, has shown that hospital mortality is approximately seven per cent lower for every 10 per cent increase in the proportion of nurses with degrees.
Research in America also found that a 10 per cent increase in the number of nurses with a bachelor’s degree was associated with a five per cent reduction in the likelihood of patients dying within 30 days of admission.
Given this data, it is unsurprising that every major British review of nursing over the past 20 years has supported degree-level education as the right preparation for the challenging and complex roles that nurses undertake.
We should be proud of our graduate nurses, help them to apply their skills to lead innovation and improvement in patient care, encourage them to engage in research and support them in challenging poor practice.
This should not distract us from a broken workforce planning system that has delivered a predictable crisis in the number of new nurses following 20 per cent cuts in the number of places between 2010/11 and 2012/13.
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Prof Dame Jessica Corner 
Chairman, Council of Deans of Health
London WC1

22 December 2014

SIR – Prof Dame Jessica Corner quotes statistics that purport to demonstrate that an increase in the number of nurses with degrees has resulted in a decline in hospital patient mortality. Two events occurring together do not necessarily have a cause-and-effect relationship.
Britain is experiencing a serious nursing crisis with a major shortfall in the number of British-trained nurses available and an inevitable dependency upon the recruitment of nurses from abroad. Insisting on degree-level qualifications will deny many dedicated young people the opportunity to serve in this wonderful profession.
Completing more traditional training and gaining experience on a hospital ward establishes that the individual is truly committed to becoming a nurse.

Malcolm H Wheeler FRCS

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