Although the hospital was not initially named, it quickly emerged in the media, apparently identified by the Royal College of Nursing. Its chief executive, Peter Carter, dubbed Mancroft 'grossly unfair' for issuing a 'sexist insult about the behaviour of British women' (Evening Standard, 29 February). Labour health minister Ann Keen said 'the entire country holds nurses in the highest regard' (The Times, 1 March). The Sun described RUH's 'devastated staff' as 'hardworking angels' (1 March).
Tory leader David Cameron asked Lord Strathclyde to issue a rebuke, but Mancroft was unrepentant: 'I will meet the chief executive of the RUH if that's what he wants, but I won't be apologising' (Mail on Sunday, 2 March). The peer accused Cameron of getting involved in the row 'because his PR people told him to do so'.
WHAT THE BLOGS SAY
Unlike the papers, most of the blogosphere analysis centred on personal stories concerning nurses they’ve encountered over the years. In a more disappointing contrast with the papers there were few posts from the bloggers defending the nurses.
Some felt the adjectives Lord Mancroft used were why people loved nurses in the first place but others complained that if standards of cleanliness were really up to scratch would we have a problem with MRSA and the like. However, many pointed out the irony of a lord referring to a group of people as drunken and promiscuous – ‘pot calling the kettle black’ was a common theme.
Many sympathised with his comments that it reflected many young women in Britain, pointing to their drunken behaviour in towns across the country and popular holiday destinations and, worse of all, the apparent pride in it. Some lamented that another, more enduring, stereotype – the nurse as ministering angel – has sadly been shattered, perhaps, once and for all.
Some said the fault lies with the unprofessionalism of the NHS and nurses defended themselves by saying people outside the industry have no real understanding of the harsh reality of the horrors they face in their day-to-day job. If people did, they would certainly understand why nurses might need a bit of ‘Dutch courage’.
Analysis conducted by Nielsen Online from a source of over 70 million blogs www.nielsen-online.com