It’s inescapable to be a nurse without an eye and ear on the state of the NHS and the conditions at the front line and how we can contend with retaining perspective alongside a sense of humour and proportion.
How to deal with the politics of it all remains a question that should be asked of us all and perhaps can only be answered on an individual basis.
I would argue that we should exercise a level of political neutrality in our work.
Our personal views can offend and upset others whether they be about having a strong faith, our class system and wealth distribution, the machinations of government or more emotive topics like immigration, the welfare state, sexual orientation or the state of our care system supporting the vulnerable such as those people with mental health difficulties and frail older people.
Suddenly I find myself feeling in a degree of conflict about balancing the need to speak out about what I believe is right with retaining an impartial and non-partisan stance on these issues.
So what is the answer? Well I will forever advocate for doubt and hesitation over certainty, having a flexible reflective open mind – this perhaps coming from my mental health clinical background and ongoing work.
I often use social media to promote positive messages about the work I do across the wide spectrum of areas: older people care, health and social care systems and structures, mental health care and co-production innovation and impactful change to future-proof excellent health and social care for those needing it.
I always shout loudly when things go well – for example, when I visit a resident of one of my care homes in hospital and witness great care and am treated with respect and good humour. When things don’t go quite so well, I generally deal with them more quietly and in a more confidential way.
I know we are all aiming to do the best we can in often testing and difficult conditions. Pointing accusing fingers as a critical onlooker generally does nothing to build trust and enhance good partnerships in care for patients.
We consider reputation management and legacy planning as two elements of self care as much as these principles being relevant to dealing with the politics of it all.
As we approach the landmark event on 5 July of 70 years since the inception of the NHS, do we feel comfortable and confident about our part in how we balance protesting the inadequacies and insufficiencies of it with promoting its value and virtues?
I do hope so – for me I’m loyal to both health and social care and have absolute passion and drive to play my part in defending both.