Journal of Advanced Nursing, 1979, 4, 121-122
Editorial C O M M I T M E N T T O C H A N G E IN BRITISH N U R S I N G EDUCATION In the 1978 Nursing Lecture, sponsored by the Royal College of Nursing (Ren), delivered in Edinburgh on 8 November 1978 by Margaret Auld, chief nursing officer, Scottish Home and Health Department, she argued that nurses 'can become too obsessed with power; what is required is a sharing of knowledge about the patient and the inclusion of the patient in discussions when this is appropriate.' Of course she was right to make those points because, as others have noted, nurses, in their attempts to rid themselves, quite rightly, of the inappropriate medical model of care and medical domination of health care organizations, could well end up forgetting that if total care is ever to be given effectively to patients then it must be by team care. Health care professionals are interdependent. Participating in a caring team does not entail sacrificing professional identity, uniqueness or autonomy. Indeed, as Miss Auld further argued, nurses need to reappraise nursing and to reassert themselves as irreplaceable masters in controlling the fulfilment of patients' basic needs and immediate environment. But that requires continuous education and re-education of professional nurses. Margaret Auld delivered her lecture just as legislation for a single statutory body for the regulation and training (both basic and postbasic) of nurses throughout the United Kingdom was being processed through the British Parliament. Although this was one of a number of major and necessary reforms recommended by the Report of the Committee on Nursing (Briggs Report) in 1972, the proposed legislation was, in 1978, still being attacked by certain sections of the British nursing profession. But there is no doubt in my mind that a single statutory body for nursing is essential in the United Kingdom if the fundamental philosophy of the Briggs Report is ever to be realized: that education for nurses should be a continuous process throughout professional life. In no other way can nursing come to terms with a rapidly changing society. Fortunately, the majority of British nurses endorse that view and desperately want the legislation enacted. I have no qualms therefore in reiterating Miss Auld's gentle rebuke to the opponents of the Parliamentary Bill. 'Emphasis on the structure, which of course involves status and roles, can be seen as a defence mechanism which undermines the fundamental message of Briggs, which was the need for a pattern of continuing education for nurses which would result in a high standard of patient care.' By the time this editorial is being read I sincerely hope that the appropriate legislation will have been passed. But I am an eternal optimist. My remarks, made 0309-2402/79/0300-0121 $02.00
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at an antiual conferetice of the Rcti student section in Manchester nearly 8 years ago, and resurrected below, could only have been made by an optimist with a commitment to nursing, which, I am glad to say, persists. 'In the final analysis everyone must accept that sound basic nursing education is the foundation for good nursing care. I know of no responsible member of the nursing profession who is anxious to perpetuate the present system of nursing education. Change is needed now. I am sure that, as professionally responsible people, you will ensure, in the process of change that will inevitably come about in the near future, that what is good in our professional heritage will be salvaged and successfully married to future developments, to produce a system of nursing education that will be excellent in the standards of education that it gives and excellent in the standards of service that it promotes.' (Smith 1971). References AULD M . G . (1978) Nursing in a Changing Society. The Nursing Lecture 1978. Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom, London. BRIGCS REPORT (1972) Report of the Committee on Nursing. Cmnd. 5115. H.M.S.O., London. SMUH J.P. (1971) Teaching care: the perennial dilemma. Nursing Mirror, 22 October, 11-14.
James P. Smith F.R.C.N.