Nurses will be asked to make hourly rounds to patients in a government drive to ‘reset’ patient care.
Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to visit two hospitals in the north west of England today (Friday 6 January) – one of which has been confirmed as the Salford Royal Hospital – to outline a new package of care to combat the “real problems” that exist in hospitals.
He will blame the “stifling bureaucracy” inflicted upon nurses for the lack of care and respect given to some patients.
Cameron will pledge to do away with this “swathe of bureaucracy”, which he will claim “stops nurses from doing what they do best”, allowing them to put “patients before paperwork”.
Under the expected move, nurses will be asked to undertake hourly nursing rounds to “systematically and routinely” check patients are comfortable, are properly fed and hydrated, and are treated with dignity and respect.
“If we want dignity and respect, we need to focus on nurses and the care they deliver,” Cameron is expected to say.
“Somewhere in the last decade the health system has conspired to undermine one of this country’s greatest professions. It’s not one problem in particular. It’s the stifling bureaucracy. The lack of consequence for failing to treat people with dignity. Even, at times – as we saw with Mid-Staffordshire – the pursuit of cost-cutting or management targets without sufficient regard for quality of care.
“Nursing needs to be about patients not paperwork. So we are going to get rid of a whole load of bureaucracy that stops nurses from doing what they do best.”
Howard Catton, Senior Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Nursing, has welcomed the PM’s move but warned sufficient time and resources must be allocated to nurses if they are going to be allowed to care.
“There are some areas where we have cut too many staff, which has created too much variation in care,” he said.
“This has a very real impact on patient care and patient experience.”
It is also expected Cameron will today launch a Nursing Quality Forum made up of front line nurses and nursing leaders to ensure leadership is seen in all hospital wards.
Patient-led inspections and a “friends and family” test on the levels of care will also be announced, with the results to be made publicly available.
"Mr Cameron is absolutely right to highlight an issue that is central to public confidence in the NHS. He offers a good start with some positive steps forward, many of which are already happening,” said NHS Confederation Deputy Policy Director Jo Webber.
“It is vital that all parts of the NHS are brought up to the standards of the best. But to tackle this we will also need to address the really knotty ingrained and complex issues.
"The answers lie in a pretty radical shift in the way we think about care. We have got to get to the culture on some wards, the skills of our staff, the prevention of unnecessary hospital admissions and the safe discharge of people into the community.
"The Prime Minister must avoid the search for a silver bullet that resonates with the public but does not actually get to the fundamental problem. He must work with NHS leaders on this as they are the ones who ultimately are going to make this happen working with frontline staff.”