Today we mark the death of Florence Nightingale on the 13th August 1910. She was a women shaped by her Christian faith, her travels in Europe and most notably the Crimean war. Her analysis of what went wrong in the war lead her to press for reforms not only in war but also in peace. She set out to reform nurse education and practice and to ensure our hospitals were safe and were places that ‘should do no harm’.
Her aspirations continue to shape our health service today. Today as for Nightingale we live in an environment of funding constraints where hospitals find it hard to balance the books and to provide appropriate level of nursing care.
The Nursing Times reports today that one of the main causes of overspending spending in the NHS has been the increased demand for qualified nurses on grounds of patient safety, following the Francis report and new safe staffing guidance for acute wards published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. They go on to report that NHS trusts will be allowed by the regulator Monitor to breach a proposed cap on agency spending if they need to ensure wards are safely staffed. It is still unclear the impact this will have but we should as a society realise as did Florence Nightingale that providing a safe, efficient and compassionate health service will have a financial cost but will add to our physical, social, spiritual and economic health as a society.