Chief Nursing Officer approves immediate steps to boost patient care at Stafford Hospital
Extra nurses and an experienced Assistant Director of Nursing are being deployed to Stafford Hospital to boost frontline staff and further improve patient care as part of a package of measures in the wake of Health Secretary Alan Johnson's response to recent reports into the standard of care at the Trust.
The extra nurses are being put in place on the advice of Chief Nursing Officer Dame Christine Beasley in response to recommendations from two reports commissioned by Alan Johnson following the Healthcare Commission's findings last month.
The reports by Professor Sir George Alberti, the National Clinical Director for Urgent and Emergency Care, and Dr David Colin-Thome, the National Director for Primary Care were published today.
Mr Johnson has accepted all the reports' recommendations and made it clear that greater priority must be given to patients' views.
Mr Johnson said:
'I have been assured that there have been significant improvements at Stafford Hospital, but it is clear there is still more to do. The recommendations in these reports and the measures I have announced today will support the staff at Stafford Hospital who are working hard to ensure that care continues to improve.'
David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS said:
'Whilst this was an awful case, it was highly unusual that such poor quality care and patient complaints could go undetected in the NHS for so long and we will make sure that this cannot happen again.
'Professor Alberti has provided reassurance that the Trust is improving significantly. I have confidence that the staff and the new leadership team at Stafford are turning the hospital around to make high quality care for patients their top priority.'
Professor Alberti found that there have been major improvements at the hospital and that the A and E department is now providing care that is safe and good. However, he also found that further improvements need to be made, particularly with regards to the number of nurses at the hospital.
A group of agency nurses are being immediately drafted into the trust to work on wards 10, 11 and 12 to ensure numbers are maintained at the right level and ratio of registered/unregistered staff.
The trust is currently working to fill all vacant posts permanently.
As well as increasing nursing numbers and strengthening leadership, a night matron will be recruited to ensure that high standards of care are monitored and maintained at night and a Professional Development Nurse will be brought in to support nurses' training and development needs.
Dr Colin-Thome looked at what lessons could be learned nationally by the NHS and makes a number of recommendations to ensure that patients' views are listened to and acted upon; that clinical leadership is focussed on quality of care; and that will help drive improvements in local commissioning of health services.
As well as the additional frontline staff, the Health Secretary today announced a range of measures to address these wider issues and to support those already introduced over the past year. These include:
- The local NHS will have to demonstrate publicly in an annual statement how they are fulfilling their legal duty to involve patients and the public in their decision making.
- Information on complaints is already available from the Care Quality Commission, the Ombudsman and the Information Centre, but we will now require hospitals to publish annually the number of complaints they receive and how many were successfully resolved locally. We will also discuss with the Health Ombudsman publishing the number of complaints from each Trust referred to and upheld by her. All this information will also be placed on the NHS Choices website allowing easier comparisons between hospitals.
- Improving support and increasing the profile of the local involvement networks (LINks) that already exist to engage patients - in particular, stressing their current powers to visit NHS premises.
- Ensuring that every Trust who achieves foundation trust status is providing high quality care - any Strategic Health Authority that wishes to support an application for foundation trust status will be required to explicitly seek the assurance of the Care Quality Commission that they have no concerns about the care offered by the trust.
The Department of Health is also from today publishing on the NHS Choices website, the Hospital Standardised Mortality Rates (HSMR) for hospitals in England.
Monitor, the Foundation Trust regulator with the support of Professor Alberti, will continue to assess progress at Stafford Hospital. The Care Quality Commission will review this with them in three months and undertake a follow up investigation in six months.
The NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson will be writing to NHS organisations to bring these reports to their attention and asking them to ensure they implement all of the recommendations that are relevant to them. Monitor will be writing out in similar terms to Foundation Trusts.