The government is treating nurses like "airline cabin crew" and is undermining nurses' efforts to care for their patients with compassion, a university professor has said.

Paul Wainwright, professor of nursing at Kingston University, said a recent call for nurses to smile more showed a lack of respect, and said the government needed to concentrate on tackling more pressing issues, such as abolishing mixed sex wards.

"They are not airline cabin crew with a fixed grin, that's not what nursing is about," said Wainwright. He also said that the government needed to address other healthcare challenges, such as the inappropriate use of targets, overcrowding and lack of resources.

Wainwright is one of the authors of a report, Defending Dignity: Challenges and Opportunities for Nursing, based on interviews with 2,000 nurses and care workers across the UK. 

The report, for the Royal College of Nursing, found eight out of 10 nurses were distressed by their inability to provide the dignified care that their patients deserved.

Wainwright also accused the health secretary, Alan Johnson, of a "fudge" when he promised to end mixed sex "accommodation" rather than mixed sex wards.


Do you agree with professor Wainwright? Are nurses being treated like "airline cabin crew"?

What do you think about the call for nurses to smile more?

What are your feelings about mixed wards? Should they be abolished?

Do you feel like you are unable to provide dignified care for your patients?