A big shout of approval this week to coroner Ian Smith, who called for Florence Nightingale to become the next weapon in the battle against hospital superbugs. A personal hero of Guru’s, the Lady of the Lamp would never have allowed the kind of filthy conditions that fester in wards across the country these days.
However, far from calling for the stoic spirit, fearless action and caring nature of Nightingale – who single-handedly cleaned up barbaric army hospitals during the Crimean War – Smith seems more intent on changing how nurses clean their hands.
Apparently, they should do so religiously, although whether this means squirting on a bit of Dove while saying the Lord’s Prayer, or scrubbing under the nails five times a day while bowing to the East, remains unclear. What is clear is that this presents a great career opportunity for obsessive compulsives.
For decades, this disorder has been a hindrance to its sufferers gaining employment – now at last it is a help. Just imagine these happy souls walking into NHS interviews proudly clutching doctors’ certificates saying they have a medical condition forcing them to wash their hands every two minutes. Department of Health HR director Clare Chapman will be in rapture – the perfect workforce to clean up her hospitals.
In fact, rather than Nightingale, perhaps Chapman should use Liverpool and England midfielder Stephen Gerrard as a role model.
His girlfriend Alex Curran once infamously revealed that he washes his hands up to 15 times a day. Now this may not actually be a massive amount for someone who works on muddy fields and has a pretty girlfriend, but the reputation is there, so he would be the perfect inspiration for nurses.
Guru understands that hand cleanliness is next to godliness, but he does feel that the unstoppable march of Clostridium difficile, which was caught by 56,000 patients last year, might require more than remembering the toilet routine your mum taught you.
In the meantime, let’s just hope that if Nightingale is turning in her grave, she is not getting her hands dirty.