Part of the fall-out from Lord Mancroft’s accusation that nurses are grubby and promiscuous is a survey reported in the Sunday Times which claims that one in ten of them consider it acceptable to start a relationship with a patient and that one in six claim to know a colleague who had a sexual relationship with a patient.
The first of these statistics actually says little about what happens in practice – I can think of many things which I would find acceptable in theory but which I lack either the wish or the opportunity to do. The second statistic may simply stem from a handful of very busy nurses who are known to many of their colleagues and by many of their patients – although not, presumably the grubby ones who were found so unattractive by Lord Mancroft.
It could, of course, all be a PR exercise by the NHS. It may take you months to get admitted for your routine operation, your doctor may speak little English and your ward will be filthy, but the odds of getting laid by a nurse are even better than your chance of catching MRSA.
On which subject, I felt a little sorry for Richard Hammond yesterday. A shocking documentary he made about MRSA in 2004 was repeated on television. Since then, the problem has grown worse, aided by Government cost-cutting in ward cleaning.
Hammond himself, however, has had his component parts lovingly reassembled by the NHS after his high-speed crash. That does not diminish the scandal of dirty hospitals nor the culpability of those responsible, from Gordon Brown down to the wide-boys who run the cleaning companies. It might, however, make Hammond slightly embarrassed about having his attack on the NHS repeated.