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Published: 04/04/2002, Volume II2, No. 5799 Page 85

I started out as a student nurse 30 years ago. My, have I seen some changes!

What do you think is the future for the nursing profession?

Florence, Coventry

Well you certainly have seen some changes, haven't you. (By the way, dear, can you still cope? Perhaps It is time to buy a pair of carpet slippers and sit by the fire. . but I digress). The government's brilliant NHS plan is working really well - and especially the central bit about nurses replacing doctors. Why, We have even got nurse consultants now. So the time is coming when doctors will be able to concentrate on the things they are really trained for like clerical duties and sitting on committees, while nurses get on with major neurosurgery and the like.

Nurses can't do management things, of course - but then they wouldn't want to anyway. Besides, it takes nearly six months to complete a chief executive modern apprenticeship, and most nurses are a bit long in the tooth to be a chief exec once they've completed their training. Personally, I think nurses could spread their wings a bit into the PAMs arena. After all, physiotherapy just involves walking old dears up and down the stairs, and occupational therapists train people to make cups of tea. Both clearly nursing specialties, if you ask me.

We are having great trouble getting our clinical waste sorted properly, and to add insult to injury our local authority now expects us to segregate household waste into recyclable and nonrecyclable categories. Do you have any advice?

Muckspreader, Bradford

Well, the problem is colours. The waste bag colour scheme couldn't be more confusing. What is it now. . . red for old files, blue for used biros and black for everything else - or something like that? Hospitals need a really good colour consultant - like me - to do their colours. Now all that nasty medical stuff (you know, the bits and pieces cut out of patients which have to be kept with their medical records unless you have a consent form for disposal signed by the Queen) should be kept in bags which produce a calming effect - say something white, with a nice logo on it. Tesco's carrier bags will do. I am sure Tesco's would be delighted to sponsor a scheme of this type. What a corporate identity promoter!