A duty too far as nurses do the cook­ing

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - FEATURES -

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.

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