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“I completely disagree with what he said. I think it doesn’t reflect the incredibly hard work that nurses do and I have as much experience of the NHS as probably anyone in my party.”
The Labour government was of course more than happy to attack Lord Mancroft also. Health minister Ann Keen said: “I am appalled at his comments and I’m sure the rest of the British public is too. The entire country holds nurses in the highest regard. People will want to know what action David Cameron is taking on this matter or if David Cameron shares his views.”
I AM IN NO POSITION to say whether Lord Mancroft’s accusations are true or not. But I know there is almost nothing that shifts one’s view of life so radically as being hospitalized: the world dwindles down to your bed and the kindness, gentleness, friendliness, cleanliness and professionalism or otherwise of the nurses suddenly becomes about the most important thing in the universe. I have been hospitalized on two occasions, once in a public and once in a private hospital, and both times the nurses were wonderful. I only hope I expressed my gratitude to them adequately on discharge. However, I can imagine how terrible bad nurses can be. And so, I think, can anyone else who has ever been a hospital patient imagine it. And ex-hospital patients are voters.p>It has already been established in recent months that filthy British hospitals have been the cause of many deaths. The Daily Telegraph wrote last year: br> /p>
Now it is 2007, and we learn that nurses in the hospitals run by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells National Health Service trust told patients suffering from diarrhea to “go in their beds.” Between 2004 and 2006, 90 patients died from Clostridium difficile, and the disease was a factor in the death of a further 241.br> Surely the Leader of the Opposition might think that 90 preventable deaths in the hospitals of one area alone were at least a hint that all was not well in the Government’s administration? br> It was reported in the British Daily Mail on January 1 that the National Health Service would spell out patients’ rights in a new “contract.” This, it was said, was likely to cover “the right to be treated in clean hospitals.” What does it say about British hospitals if such a “right” actually needs to be stated? Or that at the present time it apparently does not exist?
Were it not for bad nursing, bad medical attention and bad administration, none of these patients need have died. Indeed, they would not have contracted C. difficile at all unless they had gone into hospital. So, after 150 years’ advance of education, technology, prosperity and science, we have lost what Florence Nightingale taught [about cleanliness].
Further, given the old adage that there are no bad troops, only bad officers, Lord Mancroft’s allegations are not an attack on the nurses in one hospital but on hospital administration and supervision.
And why does Cameron apparently instantly assume that Lord Mancroft, a mature and successful businessman of 50, with a substantial record of public service — he has chaired the Addiction Recovery Foundation since 1989 and has been chairman of the Drug and Alcohol Foundation since 1993 and is vice-chairman of the Countryside Alliance — and a Conservative Party political colleague, is a liar? And a liar about something that he has no obvious motive to lie about? For that is the thrust of Cameron’s reported statement. Further, it is noticeable that Lord Mancroft’s allegations, as distinct from the generalized grumbling of a disgruntled and difficult patient, deal with specific facts, such as the cotton wool and the bloodstain.
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