The need to know


' j

Norah Casey RGN, Editor

Issue 19 Volume 5

In times of war there always appears to be a fine line between withholding information because it may alert enemy forces and suppressing information just for the sake of it. As the Gulf conflict enters its third week, coverage, al­ though extensive, has largely been speculative, with hordes of‘experts’ on hand predicting and discussing what might happen next. What remains unclear, however, is what has hap­ pened to date: any small nuggets of truth are difficult to extract. There are often justifiable purposes in withholding information and few would disagree with the Government’s reasons for secrecy. At the same time, it is imperative that the suppression of information does not create an atmos­ phere of mistrust. There is a real danger in nurturing such a climate, in that it fuels rumours and needless anxieties, and scepticism begins to replace belief among those who need to be informed. For nurses there are very distinct lines between what they need to know and what is inconsequential to their readiness for casualties. Nurses and doctors should be educated and prepared for the kinds and numbers of casualties they are likely to receive. They need to know at what stage of treatment patients will present, and any particular problems associated with battle wounding. Information regarding contingency plans, procedures and administrative

arrangements is arguably not essential to the abilities of nurses and doctors to treat casualties. But they must be adequately prepared in advance so they can react swiftly. Confusing essential with non-essen­ tial information serves neither the Government nor health-care prac­ titioners. Clinical information should be delivered with clarity and directed at those who need to know. Restricted information should equally be pre­ sented clearly and those receiving it should be aware of the reasoning be­ hind its confidentiality. Similarly, the media must be sensi­ tive in its coverage. The psychological impact of alarmist and sensational reports is considerable. There are responsibilities both on the Govern­ ment and the media in this conflict. Through co-operation and openness we can generate a climate of trust and confidence. Without that, we encou­ rage disbelief and cynicism in those who out of necessity should be in­ formed and supported. In this week’s issue we publish a special educational supplement with clinical advice and guidance for those who may be involved in caring for casualties. The Royal College of Nursing library• has supplied a further reading list (see last page of the recruitment section). Regional nurse managers have played a key role both in educating their staff in advance and assisting us in putting this information together. Karen Toovey

Publisher Alison Dunn Editor Norah Casey RGN Deputy Editor Linda Thomas RGN News Editor Jean Gray News Team Derek Hand,

Loretta McCarthy, Clifford Singer Art Director John Bowling Photographer John Behets Picture Researcher

Matthew Tillott

Jackie O’Byrnc

Beverley Hadfield

Advertisement Sales Manager

Exhibitions Executive

Neil Madden Advertisement Director

Features Editor

Secretary to the Editor

Mark Jessop

Charlotte Alderman RGN Clinical Editor Alex Mathieson RNMH, RGN

Clare Ward

Display Advertisement Manager

Book Review Editor

Marketing Director Trevor Peel

Ben Brazelle

Phyllis Holbrook Viewpoint Editor John Naish Primary Health Care Editor Julie Sylvester Production Manager Phil Savva Chief Sub Editor Roger Evans Sub Editors Michelle D'Lemos,


Classified Advertisement Executives

PA to Marketing Director

Carol Stewart

Toks Abudu, Veronica Brown, Julian Carneil, Dee O Neill

Marketing Manager Meg Holmes Conference and Exhibitions Manager

Olive Healey

Editorial Administrator

Karen George

Wanda Freeman

Display Advertisement Executive

Administrative Controller

Karen Waterman

Mail Order

Conference and Exhibitions Secretary

Jillie Skelton

January 30/Volume 5/Numbcr 19 1991 Nursing Standard 3 Downloaded from RCNi.com by ${individualUser.displayName} on Sep 15, 2016. For personal use only. No other uses without permission. Copyright © 2016 RCNi Ltd. All rights reserved.

The need to know.

EDITORIAL The need to know \ ' j Norah Casey RGN, Editor Issue 19 Volume 5 In times of war there always appears to be a fine line between withho...
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