Confessions Of A Nurse Review: National Health Disservice

CONFESSIONS OF A NURSE: Tuesday 24th January, 10pm, More4

“I didn’t pick nursing for the money… I picked nursing because I like to look after peopleâ€?, explains one of the ward-based angel types who gave us a glimpse into the world of nursing on More4 last night. It’s a good job she likes doing the job because Confessions Of A Nurse probably will probably not trigger a flood of NHS applications.

This is the latest in the string of documentary series determined to show us the lives of “undervalued and overlookedâ€? public sector workers. Set against a backdrop of impending cuts to the almost all areas of public service life, this documentary is a timely, if slightly lacklustre, attempt to portray the roles of those on the frontline of healthcare.

The problem is that Coppers has already set the bar pretty high in this category, with its truly unique blend of humour and emotional high drama. Then came Junior Doctors (which also aired last night over on BBC3) which has the glamorous benefit of its subject potentially making “life-threateningâ€? decisions based on Jagerbomb-induced haziness. Now we have the truth about hospital life as told by “the lowest in the pecking orderâ€?. Her words, not mine. But it feels as if any real emotional clout has been sacrificed in favour of a graphic look at the daily routine.

Each episode follows the catheter emptying plights of three different nurses, this week one of them works on the “very bottom of the rungâ€? as a healthcare assistant. Latoya dreams of working as a model and god knows, she has the equipment; Tall, statuesque and beautiful this 23-year-old swapped the perfume counter in Debenhams for the “sweet smell of urine and faecesâ€? three years ago.

We then met Debbie, a glamorous staff nurse who is thrust into the frenetic unpredictability of a trauma unit from the tranquil haven of her hip and knee replacement recovery ward. Being called “slapperâ€?, “bitchâ€?, “filthy lesbianâ€? and “fatâ€? are also a part of the everyday routine for many of these hard-working men and women. But the constant focus on mundane ward chores undermined the admirable spirit that these women showed for a difficult job, in difficult times.

Of course we appreciate how hard these these “angels with invisible halosâ€? toil, but sadly the documentary does little more than ogle at the most unsightly parts of their work. Echoey voice-overs which are supposed to provide an insight into the inner workings of each subject is really thinking – “please don’t dieâ€? pleads one nurse’s inner monologue at the scene of a collapse – take the place of the kind of depth and insight provided by a programme like Coppers. The public-sector fly on the wall is becoming a genre in itself with Educating Essex, Party Paramedics and 24 Hours in A&E joining the ranks of late. As such, any new contenders have to up their games if they want to contend.

Choosing guts and gore over substance and refusing to shy away from the grizzliest contents of even the most putrid looking stoma bag, this is not one to watch with your dinner.