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Most nurses are still putting patients first

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Nurses must be celebrated Despite much negative media coverage, most nurses are excellent

Last week, a national newspaper (The Independent and its spin-off 'i') launched a 'hard-hitting investigation' into 'the crisis of British nursing'. In its first instalment, columnist Christina Patterson talked of her own poor experiences at the hands of nurses on a hospital ward.

Given the relentless criticism of nursing over the past few years, the public could be forgiven for believing this to be a full and accurate reflection of modern day nursing; and it is true that problems do need to be identified and addressed. However it is absolutely not the whole picture.

This was evident at the awards ceremony hosted, last month, by IN's sister publication, the British Journal of Nursing. These awards sought 'to highlight and reward excellence and innovation across a range of disciplines throughout nursing and to celebrate nurses' achievements'. They aimed to remind nurses why they went into the profession.

The most coveted annual award is 'nurse of the year', but this year, it was impossible to award the title to an individual nurse. Instead, it was given to a whole project team involved in an inspirational initiative to reduce COPD-related hospital admissions and improve COPD patients' quality of life.

Nurses from 43 GP practices in South Wales took part, undertaking extensive education in COPD, differential diagnosis, asthma, CVD and diabetes. Participants returned to their individual surgeries to implement new ways of delivering COPD care. Many attended education in their own time; worked late without extra pay; and - in the words of their nominator - 'put the welfare of their patients before their own'.

This is the other side of nursing, the side that, these days, is rarely highlighted, but needs to be celebrated - anecdotally, at award ceremonies and in the national press.

Sarah Wild, editor, Independent Nurse

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