A poverty of leadership
Nursing older people in British hospitals, 1945–80
in Histories of nursing practice
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This chapter argues that, although many of the participants were keen to improve the care of their patients, a poverty of leadership militated against their efforts to achieve good standards of care. It begins with an examination of the antecedents to the welfare state and the foundation of the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain. The chapter suggests that the attitudes of those in the government established an ethos that enabled limited professional interest in older people's care. It focuses on the key theme that emerged from the oral histories: that of the paucity of good leadership from medicine and the senior members of the nursing profession. Based on the oral testimonies of the nurses who worked with older adult patients in English general hospitals in the second half of the twentieth century, the chapter identifies how nurses at departmental level experienced poor leadership.

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