|The Nightingale Society|
|Newsletter||16 April 2013|
I had one day at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, to use their massive family archives. The washroom advice on hand washing was a delight.
Report from London
I have been meeting with people on Nightingale issues, as well as doing the usual work at the British Library on the manuscripts, preparatory to finishing the project and making the transcripts available electronically.
A letter each to the editor of the Guardian and to the Nursing Standard were recently published, reacting to the Francis Report, on unnecessary deaths in a mid-Staffordshire hospital and the minister of health’s proposal to make all future nurses spend a year as an assistant nurse before training. Sledgehammer! with no evidence, as Nightingale might have pointed out, that this would do any good.
The letter, as published in the 10 April edition of the Nursing Standard, appears below.
Jeremy Hunt would benefit from Florence Nightingale’s lessons
Florence Nightingale was a great advocate of prospective nurses getting hands-on experience in the wards before they began their academic classes. But I suspect she would be appalled by health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposal for a one-year compulsory stint as an assistant nurse before training (news April 3). Miss Nightingale worked for safer hospitals, thought big and encouraged others to. But her vision, which was based on a bold faith, also required statistical monitoring.
An astute methodologist, she had a good grasp of the power of unintended consequences. When Miss Nightingale recommended her greatest changes, she always advised to start small.
First, make sure that what you try works as intended. Then compare the results of the new measures with those of the old programmes. And finally, the measures can be extended generally.
As in Miss Nightingale’s day, administrators need to be trained as managers and always be able to walk on to a ward unannounced. For the most vulnerable in hospital, public opinion remains an essential safeguard. Miss Nightingale loved whistleblowers and was a great one herself.
She could be a resource for nursing leaders and nurses at all stages and on many issues, including this peculiar proposal from Mr Hunt.
Lynn McDonald, professor emeritus, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Consultation on the National Curriculum
Some people will have also received a shorter version of this email by being on the list for the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale. There is one new item that is only for the Nightingale Society (the newer list, less academic, defending Nightingale). That is a submission that six of us sent to the Consultation being held by the Department of Education on the National Curriculum for England. We effectively made the point that information on both of Nightingale and Seacole should be accurate (that on Seacole is flagrantly inaccurate), and that for the higher levels of pupils, much more material should be brought in on Nightingale, to include her work on public policy and statistics especially. We are pleased to have two new people to co-sign with us, a nurse educator, Amanda Keighley, and a “working” peeress, Baroness Cumberlege, a health care expert.
Read the submission on the Nightingale Society website at http://nightingalesociety.com/reform-of-the-national-curriculum-in-england
Sunday Edition is an excellent and popular comment programme on CBC Radio, so I was very pleased to be invited for an interview on Nightingale, with the Mary Seacole link and proposed placing of a statue of her at Nightingale’s hospital. Michael Enright is a superb interviewer, and the research was well done. He reminded me, before the taping began, that the last time he interviewed me was on the Non-smokers’ Health act, now 25 years ago!!
Reactions to the Sunday Edition interview have been very positive, and brought us in some new “Nightingale Society” members. You can link to the segment at cbc.ca/thesundayedition/shows/2013/04/14/defending-florence-nightingale. (NB: if this link has expired, there you may be able to access an alternative link through the menu on the Nightingale Society homepage.)