Nurses must be told to 'talk to patients': PM's intervention is a damning indictment of care on our hospital wardsNurses should check whether patients need help at least once an hourDavid Cameron says quality of care has been hit by the stifling bureaucracy
Focus on care: David Cameron will say nurses need to check up on patients at least every hour
David Cameron is urging nurses to speak to patients at least once an hour.
As he pledges to reverse the declining standard of NHS care in a major speech today, the Prime Minister will say too few nurses understand that caring is their main job, and that everything else comes second. He will proclaim: ‘Nursing needs to be about patients, not paperwork.’
Health service campaigners said the fact that Mr Cameron felt it necessary to remind nurses to talk to patients was an indictment of the ‘dreadful’ standard of care in many hospitals.
Mr Cameron’s intervention follows growing concerns about frail and vulnerable patients, particularly the elderly, being left hungry and thirsty in soiled bedclothes because some nurses no longer see their profession as a vocation.
The Daily Mail has highlighted the failure of many nurses to care for patients effectively as part of its Dignity for the Elderly campaign.
On a visit to an NHS hospital, Mr Cameron will say he wants to see the whole approach to caring reset.
He will tell nurses that at least every hour they should check whether patients need help with eating and drinking, being taken to the lavatory, or whether they need to be moved to make them more comfortable. Then they should ask: ‘Is there anything more I can do for you now’
The Prime Minister will say: ‘There’s something really fundamental that needs to be put right fast. We need an NHS which ensures that every patient is cared for with compassion and dignity in a clean environment.
‘We know the vast majority of patients are very happy with the care provided by the NHS. I’ve seen the NHS at its very best – the incredible people for whom nursing is a true vocation, who go beyond the call of duty and combine great medical knowledge with great care.
Care: A nurse talks to a patient in a wheelchair. Today Mr Cameron will say NHS workers spend too little time on the needs of patients because they face a mountain of paperwork
Good old-fashioned care: An NHS nurse feeds a patient in 1983. Mr Cameron will say proper care has become lost in bureaucracy
‘But I also know we’ve got a real problem in some of our hospitals with patients not being fed and watered regularly or treated with the respect they deserve. I am absolutely appalled by this, and we are going to put this right.’
He will add: ‘If we want dignity and respect, we need to focus on nurses and the care they deliver. 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 . . . the pursuit of cost-cutting or management targets without sufficient regard for quality of care.’
Bureaucracy: Mr Cameron, pictured yesterday, will blame paperwork for nurses not paying enough attention to patients' four basic needs
Mr Cameron plans to get rid of paperwork which keeps nurses from spending time with patients and establish a national forum to spread best practice across the NHS. Hospitals which perform well on providing the ‘four basics of care’ – preventing bedsores, falls, blood clots and hospital-acquired infections – will receive financial bonuses.
And a new ‘friends and family’ test will ask patients, carers and staff whether they would recommend the hospital to their loved ones.
Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: ‘It is dreadful that the Prime Minister is having to remind members of the caring profession to talk to patients.’
Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: ‘Something has gone wrong in the NHS.
‘It’s all been about targets and saving money.’
Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The
profession will welcome the moves to free nurses to put care first, and
to focus all their energies on the needs of their patients.’
Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘If the Prime Minister really wants
to help nurses focus on patient care, he should listen to what they are
saying and drop his unnecessary Health Bill.
reckless decision to reorganise the NHS at this time of financial
challenge threatens to throw the entire system into chaos.’