Ann Clwyd came on my programme for an hour tonight to talk about the treatment her husband received in hospital in Cardiff in the weeks before he died. She moved many to tears last week in PMQs when she asked David Cameron why so many nurses lacked compassion nowadays. Her voice quavered with emotion. It reminded me of the terrible time my family went through when my mother was in Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge earlier this year. I wanted to complain about the lack of care and lack of compassion but by the time the funeral was over to be quite honest I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t want to relive those hours all over again. I now feel ashamed. I talked about it a bit on the radio, but thought most people would think I was being unkind to poor, overworked nurses. Ann Clwyd, though, was made of sterner stuff and was far braver than I was. She has unwittingly hit on something though, judging by her postbag and those who called my show tonight. Jeremy Hunt has asked to see her next week to discuss the issue. No one is saying all nurses lack compassion. Far from it. But too many do. Is it systemic? Has it got something to do with training and the fact that all nurses are now graduates? Is it lack of support or staff numbers? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this issue is becoming a real problem and needs to be tackled by NHS managers before it gets out of control.
So good luck to Ann Clwyd. She’s been a tenacious campaigner on many issues in the past and I hope she gets somewhere with this.