Dina sent me this article by Melanie Phillips from the UK Daily Mail.
Last week, a devastating report detailing what can only be described as the widespread collapse of the ethic of nursing was produced by the Care Quality Commission.
This revealed that more than half of all hospitals in England do not meet standards for the dignity and nutrition of elderly people. One in five hospitals were found to be failing the elderly so badly that they were breaking the law.
In hospitals where essential standards were not met, inspectors found that patients’ call bells had been placed out of reach or were not responded to quickly enough, or staff were talking to patients in a condescending or dismissive way.
In one hospital, inspectors witnessed a patient being made to go to the lavatory in full view of the rest of the ward. In another, doctors had to prescribe water to make sure that patients did not become dehydrated.
These horrifying revelations do not signify merely incompetence nor — that perennial excuse — the effect of ‘the cuts’.
No, they illustrate instead something infinitely grimmer: the replacement of altruism by indifference, and compassion by cruelty.
[…]Nursing was effectively created by that 19th-century feminist pioneer, Florence Nightingale. To her, nursing was in essence a moral act. In her book Notes On Nursing, published in 1860, she wrote that ‘the greater part of nursing consists in preserving cleanliness’.
That wasn’t just because hygiene was essential for recovery and health. It was because keeping both hospital and patients clean meant the nurse needed to be motivated by the most high-minded concern for the care and dignity of the patient.
Accordingly, lowly functions such as washing, dressing and administering bedpans were functions that were invested with the highest possible significance.
[…][D]uring the Eighties, nursing underwent a revolution. Under the influence of feminist thinking, its leaders decided that ‘caring’ was demeaning because it meant that nurses — who were overwhelmingly women — were treated like skivvies by doctors, who were mostly men.
To achieve equality, therefore, nursing had to gain the same status as medicine. This directly contradicted an explicit warning given by Florence Nightingale that nurses should steer clear of the ‘jargon’ about the ‘rights’ of women ‘which urges women to do all that men do, including the medical and other professions, merely because men do it, and without regard to whether this is the best that women can do’.
That prescient warning has been ignored by the modern nursing establishment. To achieve professional equality with doctors, nurse training was taken away from the hospitals and turned into an academic university subject.
Since caring for patients was demeaning to women, it could no longer be the cardinal principle of nursing. Instead, the primary goal became to realise the potential of the nurse to achieve equality with men. (The great irony is that more women than men are now training to be doctors in British medical schools, thus making this ideology out of date.)
In an important book on the nursing profession, Ann Bradshaw, a specialist in palliative care, described how this agenda removed caring, kindness, compassion and dedication from nurse training.
Student nurses now studied sociology, politics, psychology, microbiology and management, and were assessed for their communication, management and analytical skills. ‘Specific clinical nursing skills were not mentioned,’ she wrote.
In short, nursing ditched its core vocation to care. Bedbaths and feeding those who are helpless are tasks vital to the care of patients — but are now considered beneath the dignity of too many nurses.
Dame Joan Bakewell, the former government-appointed Voice of Older People, has suggested nurses be given ‘empathy training’. But, of course, you can’t train people in compassion.
Dame Joan was much nearer the mark when she observed that the decline in kindness and sympathy was linked to the decline in religious observance. In other words, the crisis in nursing is part of a far broader and deeper spiritual malaise.
Duty to others and respect for the innate humanity of every person have been eroded by the ‘me society’ of ruthless, self-centred individualism.
This is something I have often thought about… what it would be like to go to a hospital filled with non-Christians who had no rational basis for morality and virtue. Especially in a single-payer system, where you couldn’t withhold payment if care was not of a good enough quality. When you put together secularism (removes the rational basis for acts of self-sactifice and the dignity of the individual) together with socialism (where the individual pays mandatory taxes and must seek products and services from a politicized, unionized government monopoly) then it becomes a scary situation indeed.
Feminism affects nurses in other ways, too
I think I’ll just paste some more about these British nurses here, from Theodore Dalrymple’s book “Life at the Bottom” – even though it’s a little off topic.
All the more surprising is it to me, therefore, that the nurses perceive things differently. They do not see a man’s violence in his face, his gestures, his deportment, and his bodily adornments, even though they have the same experience of the patients as I. They hear the same stories, they see the same signs, but they do not make the same judgments. What’s more, they seem never to learn; for experience—like chance, in the famous dictum of Louis Pasteur—favors only the mind prepared. And when I guess at a glance that a man is an inveterate wife beater (I use the term “wife” loosely), they are appalled at the harshness of my judgment, even when it proves right once more.
This is not a matter of merely theoretical interest to the nurses, for many of them in their private lives have themselves been the compliant victims of violent men. For example, the lover of one of the senior nurses, an attractive and lively young woman, recently held her at gunpoint and threatened her with death, after having repeatedly blacked her eye during the previous months. I met him once when he came looking for her in the hospital: he was just the kind of ferocious young egotist to whom I would give a wide berth in the broadest daylight.
Why are the nurses so reluctant to come to the most inescapable of conclusions? Their training tells them, quite rightly, that it is their duty to care for everyone without regard for personal merit or deserts; but for them, there is no difference between suspending judgment for certain restricted purposes and making no judgment at all in any circumstances whatsoever. It is as if they were more afraid of passing an adverse verdict on someone than of getting a punch in the face—a likely enough consequence, incidentally, of their failure of discernment. Since it is scarcely possible to recognize a wife beater without inwardly condemning him, it is safer not to recognize him as one in the first place.
This failure of recognition is almost universal among my violently abused women patients, but its function for them is somewhat different from what it is for the nurses. The nurses need to retain a certain positive regard for their patients in order to do their job. But for the abused women, the failure to perceive in advance the violence of their chosen men serves to absolve them of all responsibility for whatever happens thereafter, allowing them to think of themselves as victims alone rather than the victims and accomplices they are. Moreover, it licenses them to obey their impulses and whims, allowing them to suppose that sexual attractiveness is the measure of all things and that prudence in the selection of a male companion is neither possible nor desirable.
Often, their imprudence would be laughable, were it not tragic: many times in my ward I’ve watched liaisons form between an abused female patient and an abusing male patient within half an hour of their striking up an acquaintance. By now, I can often predict the formation of such a liaison—and predict that it will as certainly end in violence as that the sun will rise tomorrow.
At first, of course, my female patients deny that the violence of their men was foreseeable. But when I ask them whether they think I would have recognized it in advance, the great majority—nine out of ten—reply, yes, of course. And when asked howthey think I would have done so, they enumerate precisely the factors that would have led me to that conclusion. So their blindness is willful.
You see, feminism also has the effects of telling women that there are no special roles that men are meant to perform, like provider, protector, moral leaders, spiritual leader. And when more and more women grow up in fatherless homes where money comes in from the government, and morality and spirituality are taught in public schools, it becomes harder and harder for women to have the wisdom to choose good men. Instead, they end up choosing men who are attractive and entertaining, using the 180-second rule.
You can read the entire Dalrymple book on moral relativism online. I posted links to the full text of Theodore Dalrymple’s “Life at the Bottom”.