Being a student nurse I had spent the day looking after nine seriously ill patients, together with a junior staff nurse and part-time nursing auxiliary. Most of the patients required help to perform the basic activities of living, some in the terminal stages of illness. Just dealing with the urinary and faecal incontinence was a full-time job,. With the best will in the world, we tried to get basic care completed and to a large degree we somehow managed, needing the ability to do three things at once. Or did we? Struggling to get basic care completed leaves no room for the so-called “holistic” approach required by the models of nursing. The gap between theory and practice is measured in light years.
After a mentally and physically exhausting day I arrive home to be told that Tony Blair is going to introduce the concept of the super nurse. The concept is flawed and ignores the real problems in the NHS. Nurses are not angels or super, just workers seeking meaningful work, doing a job that helps to care for people. a caring attitude that is exploited to get nurses to do as much as possible for as little as possible. The clinical grading system already means that a few nurses are paid higher rtes of pay than the average nurse and it is the higher grades that are now being made redundant at my present hospital, because the Hospital Trust is in the red. If any NHS Trusts can afford the super-nurse it will represent a desirable post for the few and help pit nurse against nurse in the competition of who can achieve the most unpaid overtime or least amount of sickness.
The UKCC code of conduct for nurses requires that they serve the interests of society, to do this nurses need socialism not super status.
Nothing but the truth
Herewith is a short piece which I wrote when serving with the West Midlands Police in the early 80s. I have been prompted to send it to you as the result of reading the short story by Heather Ball in September’s issue of the Socialist Standard.
It was whilst serving with the police that I came to the conclusion that it is the values upon which society is based which creates world-wide dishonesty. The world revolves on dishonesty.
Before giving evidence at any judicial proceedings it is practice to take the Oath or make a sworn affirmation, thereby promising to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the name of God, Allah or any other mystical omnipotence that you have been conditioned to have faith in. a sworn affirmation amounts to much the same thing except that the “almighty” is not brought into it.
Having completed this solemn and apparently sincere ritual all that remains to be done, so you might think, is to relate your evidence to the Court as honestly as you can recall . . . but, it doesn’t end there. Having given evidence the witness is then invariably subjected to a verbal flailing form a highly trained advocate with the sole purpose of proving that the witness has, wholly or in part, told anything but the truth. This so called cross-examination has the full backing of the Court and effectively reduces the value of the Oath/affirmation to something akin to the scribblings to be found in most public toilets.
Regardless of any promise to tell the truth the fact remains that the honesty of a witness is not enhanced one jot in the eyes of the Court by taking the Oath. If any value at all was placed on this ritual then there would be no need for the demeaning Court scenes where highly educated and articulate lawyers seek to prove that some hapless (though possibly truthful) witness is telling porkies.
If you or I should be so naïve as to believe that all witnesses, some witnesses or just a few witnesses tell the truth or, are expected to tell the truth, despite having taken the Oath/affirmation, then the procedure in our Courts confirm beyond all reasonable doubt that such a belief is just wishful thinking. So why take the Oath? It certainly doesn’t do anything to elicit the truth and what is more no one expects it to . . . and so the Oath/affirmation is without value and meaningless. Additionally it reduces any concept you might have of God to something less than a scab on a donkey’s ear and the holy scripture might just as well be a pile of second-hand comics.
JOHN PHAZY, Sutton Coldfield
Dave Alton (September Socialist Standard) was far too lenient to Barry Goldwater.
In the first place, the word “libertarian” is a gross misnomer for those who advocate capitalism without a welfare state or government intervention in the economy, and we should not use it uncritically. What they actually stand for is slavery—wage slavery. As Dave says, “there can be no liberty to defend until humanity is liberated from capitalism”.
Secondly, Dave claims that Goldwater’s opposition to welfare spending involved “detesting the concept of people becoming dependent upon the state”. Leaving aside the point that most capitalist who spout this stuff are more than happy to accept state subsidies for themselves when they’re available, the fact is that such campaigns are basically designed to cut taxes and so keep up profits. Goldwater of course wanst opposed to workers being dependent on selling their labour power.
PAUL BENNETT, Manchester