Up next, dementia no bar to remaining a pilot

NHS nurses with dementia should be allowed to carry on working, according to the profession’s top body.

The Royal College of Nursing voted overwhelmingly yesterday in favour of making dementia a special case when interpreting rules on whether a medical diagnosis signalled the end of a career. The move aims to keep experience, skills and knowledge in the NHS, nurses said,

Rather the point or dementia is that you can’t recall that experience, isn’t it?

But no matter, forgetful pilots up next. No, don’t worry, we know it won’t be a problem. RyanAir has been forgetting where airports are for decades now.

28 comments on “Up next, dementia no bar to remaining a pilot

  1. Most of the inhabitants of NHS wards seem to be geriatric dementia patients these days. What a brilliant scheme!!! To recruit staff from the ranks of the patients–the only resource the NHS has in –far too great–abundance.

    That way they can be left to get on with it and even be relied on to starve themselves to death.

  2. Would they be able to find their way to work? Would the police drop off the random lost elderly routinely at hospital reception? Disinhibition is a common symptom which could be entertaining or trying for the patients.

  3. Any fule kno that Seoul North International Airport is actually located just outside Pyongyang.

  4. Ultimate proof that the fundamental interests of the NHS are the staff, not the patients. Any healthcare going on is just a byproduct.

  5. @Jim: that’s true for most of the public sector. See e.g. teachers. Actually this is also true for the entire lefty view of the world. The purpose of business is also to either provide jobs or taxes. Producing value be damned.

  6. Hmm. My Father in law was a research librarian and author, and got Alzheimer’s in his 60s. Carried on working for almost two years after formal diagnosis, writing papers and performing well as the font of all knowledge on his arcane specialisms. He lost the ability to add new knowledge, stopped writing papers after a bit, and eventually started to lose his grip on why he was doing it, but for a good while he was still really valuable, better than any of his team, even after we had to take his car away as he reported it stolen after work every day. After he passed away, we found out from his notes that that he’d self-diagnosed a year before anybody noticed anything amiss. OK, that isn’t nursing, but I’m pretty sure that an early stage dementia nurse with decades of experience might be safer than a fresh grad. I don’t have a problem with it not being an automatic sacking on diagnosis. All that will do is ensure no nurse goes to the doctor with symptoms that could lead to them losing their job. Unintended consequence might be more nutty nurses, not less.

  7. ” I don’t have a problem with it not being an automatic sacking on diagnosis. All that will do is ensure no nurse goes to the doctor with symptoms that could lead to them losing their job.”

    Does this run for other jobs too? Pilots with alcoholism? Surgeons with AIDS? Bus drivers with narcolepsy?

    There’s a huge difference between someone writing papers on arcane subjects and a nurse treating sick people with drugs and complicated equipment. If the former forgets something important in a paper whats the worst that could happen? However the latter……….

    Basically people who work in jobs where they have other people’s lives in their hands have to accept that the safety of the people they are serving is paramount, above and beyond their ‘right’ to keep being paid to do that job.

  8. So – is a graduate nurse with dementia more or less effective than a non-graduate without dementia?

  9. Surely they should just make an exemption for anybody who is still healthy enough to productively and safely work? Which I imagine may possibly cover early stage dementia (if properly supervised) and a host of other conditions.Though I would be slightly worried about the care if the dementia suddenly deteriorates.

  10. Isn’t this just formalising current working practice given that we already have cases of eg patients dying of dehydration, because nurses forgot to look after them?

  11. Sadly, dementia often comes along with other medical problems. So the deterioration in health becomes complex and too often the other aspects are not diagnosed. Also, “dementia” is a single word for several forms of significant mental decline, which can be difficult to assess.

  12. Can you just imagine dementia patients working as healthcare professionals? We’d have nurses wandering aimlessly about in a confused state!

  13. I would hope that nurses wouldn’t be making the decision; they do, after all, have a fairly large personal interest in the outcome.

  14. dearieme – “They already seem to employ people with dementia in their IT departments.”

    That’s not fair. Often people with dementia were competent once.

  15. Someone with dementia could work. And someone with dementia could cause problems by working.
    How many patients would have to suffer? Heck, nurses without dementia were killing patients – why would we accept the problems of dementia in any profession involving patients?

  16. Can we perhaps demote them to the role of healthcare assistant? Or take away responsibility for administering drugs, or other areas where memory is important. There’s an awful lot of hospital work which doesn’t require a good memory. Especially if things are written down.

    Same principle applies to lots of jobs: which parts of the job can we remove to accommodate the disability? A surgeon with AIDS couldn’t be expected to operate; but he or she could still train others, review cases, and plenty more. Ultimately you cut your coat according to your cloth. Stephen Hawking didn’t complain that he couldn’t be a premiership footballer.

    In most situations though, removing responsibilities means a decrease in productivity. It ought therefore to come with a decrease in salary. That’ll never happen in the NHS.

  17. NDR: So – is a graduate nurse with dementia more or less effective than a non-graduate without dementia?

    That depends. Is she a natural ginger?

  18. “removing responsibilities means a decrease in productivity”

    Yeah this is the NHS though so I don’t think there is much of a reason to believe that the link between salary and productivity is very strong in the first place.

  19. “Or take away responsibility for administering drugs, or other areas where memory is important.”

    And what happens when someone forgets that they no longer have authority to administer drugs, or operate a certain piece of equipment?

    Basically if you’re working in that sort of environment you have to be the full ticket. If a person is not able to self police (ie know what their responsibilities are, and be criminally liable for adhering to them) then they shouldn’t be there, full stop.

  20. Jim,
    In the same way that hospital porters and HCAs don’t administer drugs. Access to the drugs cabinet is restricted.

  21. ” if you’re working in that sort of environment you have to be the full ticket” Do you actually know many hospital nurses these days? Most, great. A non-insignificant proportion are incompetents with little command of the basics who are shuffled from post to post by ineffective management unable (or unwilling) to get rid of them, while the good ones spend much time clearing up after them. I’m not advocating we deploy demented nurses, I am agreeing that the first symptoms should not be an automatic sacking. Nursing isn’t flying a plane (to nick the other example given), and most life-impacting things they do get double or triple checked.

  22. “A non-insignificant proportion are incompetents with little command of the basics who are shuffled from post to post by ineffective management unable (or unwilling) to get rid of them, while the good ones spend much time clearing up after them”

    Thats hardly a reason to allow even more sub par nurses to stay at work is it?

    The point is that once a diagnosis has been made and the decision to downgrade a nurses responsibility, the NHS has effectively said that person no longer has full mental capacity and needs to be overseen at all times. There undoubtedly are many dim and incompetent nurses in the NHS, however the management have not dormally identified them but then allowed them to continue in some lesser role. By identifying people with early onset dementia they are opening themselves up for mega compensation claims – they’ve admitted guilt before they’ve even started.

    Would a nurse with dementia even still be criminally liable for her actions, or could she claim that a) the NHS knew about her condition and allowed her to continue and b) she was mentally incapacitated and therefore not liable for her actions?

  23. I can’t quite fucking believe some people are actually arguing that nurses with dementia ought to be able to carry on working. Would you let one nurse your child? I doubt many people will honestly answer yes.

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