Norfolk hospital leaders welcome Cameron’s pledge on care

Senior management at three Norfolk hospitals have welcomed plans to drive up care standards which were announced yesterday by prime minister David Cameron.

Under the initiative, nurses will be told to undertake hourly ward rounds while members of the public will be allowed to inspect hospitals.

Mr Cameron said that most patients are happy with NHS care but there have been well publicised cases of patients not getting good basic treatment on issues such as food and drink or being treated with respect.

He also said the government was going to 'put right' the problem after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found issues with dignity and respect in hospitals up and down the country.

One of these hospitals was the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston which was issued with a second formal warning by the CQC, following a third critical inspection report.

A recent Freedom of Information request also revealed six members of staff at the 544-bed hospital have been disciplined over poor care provided to elderly patients.

Two CQC inspections at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital revealed minor concerns and demanded further improvements.

Most Read

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has also been told improvements were needed after concerns were raised about some aspects of dignity, privacy and nutrition at the King's Lynn-based hospital.

Claire Roberts, deputy director of nursing at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: 'We welcome the prime minister's interest in the importance of good nursing to the patients and the focus on delivering good nursing care.

'I think we recognise the importance of talking to patients and see this as fundamental to giving good care. Good communication is emphasised in all nurse training.

'I hope that we would aim to always talk to our patients in a respectful and empathic manner at all times.

'Most of the aims in the plans are realistic. The hardest one to deliver is removing the bureaucracy as the nature of health care has changed and the workload increased with an increasing demand for information, record-keeping, audits or practice, and reports.'

'We are currently undertaking a review of all our nursing paperwork to try and reduce the burden to the minimum to maintain safe practice and to release staff to be with patients.'

She added the hospital is also undertaking rounds every two hours and advising staff to use time with patients as an opportunity to check all their needs are being met.

Nick Coveney, director of nursing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: 'I really welcome David Cameron's comments and would support what we call 'care roundings' which we are already using to make regular checks on patients' wellbeing. In terms of the public being involved in checking standards, we have about 30 patient representatives involved in regular inspections of our wards who are drawn from organisations such as Age UK, the Older People's Forum and the Norfolk Local Involvement Network.'

As well as regular ward rounds, Mr Cameron pledged to strip away 'stifling bureaucracy' and said a new Nursing Quality Forum of frontline nurses and nursing leaders will be created to promote excellent care and ensuring good practice across the NHS.

Patients will lead inspections of hospital wards, with local people becoming part of teams assessing cleanliness, dignity and nutrition under the plans which were announced during the prime minister's tour of Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester,

A new 'friends and family test' will also ask whether patients, carers and staff would recommend their hospital to friends and family. The results will be published and hospital leaders who fail the test will be held to account.

Carole Crocker, James Paget University Hospital's director of nursing, said: 'Nursing is a caring profession and we must make sure that our staff have the time they need to talk to their patients and to care for their needs.

'That is something we strongly believe in and we are reviewing our workforce to make sure our nurses have the right mix of skills and resources.

'All nurses would welcome a stripping away of 'stifling bureaucracy' but politicians do need to be careful that good intentions don't, in fact, lead to increased paperwork and not less.

'At the James Paget our nurses undertake two hourly rounds of patients, all of which has to be documented, and doing that on an hourly basis would increase the need for nurses to fill out forms.

'Hospitals like the James Paget already have members of the public who come in and help inspect services and they come from organisations such as LINks and our publicly-elected governors.

'The views of patients and relatives are very important to us. We also look carefully at the results of the Care Quality Commission national in-patient surveys that are carried out every year to see what we can learn and improve on.'

The aim is to have all hospitals implementing the programme from April 2013 and is not for the rounds to replace usual nursing care, such as dressing wounds, but to run alongside them.

Hospitals which perform well on providing the 'four basics of care' – preventing bedsores, falls, blood clots and hospital-acquired infections – will receive financial bonuses.

Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary, said: 'The profession will welcome the moves to free up nurses to put care first, and to focus all their energies on the needs of their patients. In particular, nurses them-selves have emphasised the enormous burden of the paperwork they have to complete, day in and day out.'

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients' Association, said: 'We have consistently said that nurses need time to care, and we have called for an end to the bureaucracy that stops effective nursing.'

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: 'If David Cameron really wants to help nurses focus on patient care, he should listen to what they are saying and drop his unnecessary Health Bill.

'His reckless decision to reorganise the NHS at this time of financial challenge threatens to throw the entire system into chaos.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter