A duty too far as nurses do the cooking
Nurses are expected to turn their hands to all sort of challenges in a crisis – but doing the patients’ cooking, too? It is happening at a hospital in Skye due to chronic staff shortages. The nurses will be cutting the lawns next, at this rate.
The actual definition of “cooking” here might be an issue, as NHS Highland clarified that they were “simply re-heating and serving” food. I think we would all agree that this boils down to food preparation and waiting on patients. Is that their job now?
It appears that the former 14-bed Portree Hospital is down to one or two patients and its cooks have been transferred temporarily to Broadford’s Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital to cover staff absences. Nurses at Portree have agreed to step in and work in the kitchen. Whether or not that is through gritted teeth is unknown.
Maybe they have acted in a purely professional and altruistic manner for which their vocation is respected and admired.
But surely there is a principle at stake here, a line that has been crossed or a precedent that has been set, especially for small rural and island hospitals where staff cover is a potentially major problem.
We can only assess the local importance of the situation through the eyes of those involved. One furious councillor accused NHS Highland of presiding over a “broken system”.
The bigger picture concerns fears for the future of Portree Hospital and perceptions that the “nurse cooks” are symptomatic of a local service being allowed to die.