Doctors and nurses: doing it differently
The time is ripe for a major reconstruction
The relationship between doctors and nurses has never been straightforward. The differences of power, perspective, education, pay, status, class, and - perhaps above all - gender have led to tribal warfare as often as peaceful coexistence. Nurses' readiness to be slighted and doctors' reluctance to be challenged create an undercurrent of tension. This may be masked in practice settings by the pressing need to get the work done, but it is there.
The newly arrived interplanetary traveller might find this puzzling. Two groups of people sharing an apparently identical goal, to serve patients, might be assumed to get along well. They might also be assumed to have some interest in exploring the relationship if it needs maintenance. But in reality, although a major reconstruction is now required, sensible debate between doctors and nurses is scarce.
The prime minister, determined to convert the NHS from a liability to an election winner,