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Mid Staffs nursing director 'choked' over care failings

The new nursing director at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust was moved to tears by some of the stories about poor care standards, and has already set about making sure they will not be repeated

Much of the Healthcare Commission report that originally highlighted fatal care failings at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust focused on awful nursing care. The commission reported a lack of communication, “lack of basic nursing care, such as poor hydration and nutrition” and a “negative attitude among some of the nurses”.

Julie Hendry joined as interim nursing director in November and has replaced several senior nurses on wards that had problems.

The trust and campaigners want staff to confront the past through what is being referred to as an “honesty and courage” programme.

Staff are to be shown videos of patients and relatives talking about their horrendous experiences at the trust. Ms Hendry says she believes the stories will convince any nurses who still have doubts about the seriousness of the problems: “I’m not someone who cries easily but I have been so choked by the stories.”

Ms Hendry, who joined as interim director of nursing in November, says: “It’s about putting the right people in as ward leaders. If you’ve got highly visible nurse leadership at ward level – your ward sisters and matrons are on the physically wards not in meetings, being reactive, answering complaints. Highly visible clinical leaders who are talking to patients asking if everything is okay, you can address concerns as they arise.

“We are involving patients and the family a lot more, for example in care and discharge planning.”

Readers' comments (11)

  • D Wright

    Having had a wealth of military nursing experience, I firmly believe that the high standards in a Military Hospital can be applied and transferred to Civvy Hospitals. Student nurses (the potential clinical leaders), In my opinion, would benefit from experience in the excellent and disciplined way these wards, now residing in many Civilian hospitals are run.

    I have noticed that a many wards apply 'slap dash' approaches that go unnoticed and leadership is not disciplined, but weak and oppressive in many cases, not all but I have noticed!

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  • as a community nurseand i go to acute hospitals to assess patients and i have witnessedat first hand. horrific standards of care but it is not just nurses its the doctors as well and its basic care and communication that are sadly lacking ive witnessed soiled patients in dirty beds, patients with food on a tray in front of them, when they are clearly unable to feed themselves etc and when as i have on several occasions intervened and asked for help you are treated as causing trouble its does not stop me, but this should not happen. its about time patients were treated with respect, afforded dignity, and given correct infomation, after all we are paying for this service and no one would expect to pay out good money for a shoddy service and be treated so badly into the bargain.
    managers need to instill confidence and lead their teams, build trust be open and honest, and get the basics right if a patient is not being fed properly, or personal care and pressure areas not being assessed and individual care plans tailored to the patient needs together with high standards of infection control and i dont mean playing lip service, with the posters weve all seen them, but they are no use if staff and visitors do not abide by the infomation and wash their hands wear gloves and work governed by protocols and policies.
    for goodness sake get your act together stop being negative and try to get the public back by actions !!! i totally agree with D wrights comments

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  • Good for Ms Hendry, but I doubt the problems are restricted to Mid Staffs in all honesty. I work in a trust with three main hospitals. Today, I visited one of the other hospitals and was frankly appalled. A relative stood by the desk waiting for the ward manager's attention. He waited patiently for a few minutes. I asked if I could help as the ward manager remained sitting in her seat, her head buried in her notes, although she knew full well he was there. I then spoke to the ward manager and said 'this relative would like some help'. Her response was to shout at the poor man that she was busy, she didn't know the patient and he was to ask another nurse. Shortly after, the ward clerk, in full view of everyone else on the ward swore very rudely and loudly at a doctor. Their behaviour made me feel embarrassed and ashamed not to mention horrified. With ward leaders like this, who quite obviously do not set standards for others to follow what hope is there?

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  • Anonymous, staff nurses are in no position to stop what they are doing to attend to every interruption. It is truly sick to expect them to do so. That ward manager probably had a deteriorating unwell patient and that was probably her 85th attempt (due to repeated interruptions) to look at the notes to get a clear picture of what is going on/doctors orders/ect ect.

    The problem with all of these things are lack of staff.

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  • If you guys had any understanding of what was happening on these wards you would question how a nurse could possibly work in that environment without becoming even more hostile.

    I highly recommend a book called nursing against the odds, written by Suzanne Gordon. She is a journalist who has studied bedside nursing and related issues since the mid 80's. She knows what she is talking about. She knows why the nursing care nowadays is horrendous and she knows it isn't down to lazy uncaring nurses with low standards. Most of her book details how nursing care was ruined in the US. The things she is describing have all occured in the UK as well. It is very very relevant. I think you guys need a bit of education about what is going on and I do highly recommend that book.

    Nurses are wonderful people but even they cannot be subjected to abusive and overwhelming working conditions without acting hostile. What the nurses on some of these wards are being subjected to would make Mother Theresa bite.

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  • Madeline, Do you really think that you could care for 15 patients, 3 of whom should be in ITU and require constant monitoring or they could die? Could you do that and still clean everyone else up? Could you do it whilst being interrupted by very demanding people who want to monoplise your time every two minutes? Remember that you are on your own with that and when you bring concerns about staffing and acuity to management all they are going to do is laugh in your face.

    In the military they have better ratios.

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  • military hospital discipline is rubbish. it is just rubbish!

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  • zcatly

    stop complaining about your job. if you dont like it, just find another one. why do you stay in a job wherein you always moan for staffing ratios, no time for quality care and many more. these problems have been in the system since you were born, these have never been mended by any for of complaints of moaning. look for a better job or trust and have a LIFE. OK?

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  • zcatly, that is exactly why we have a horrendous nursing shortage. It is worse now. For years the hospitals have been increasing throughput, the sacuity of patients has been increasing, and they have been decreasing the number of RN's on the wards. The elderly population is also increasing.

    Telling the nurses "if you don't like it, there is the door" only makes things worse. These wards need to be sorted because the nurses cannot function and patients are receiving substandard care as a result.

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  • Madeline Carrol said, "its about time patients were treated with respect, afforded dignity, and given correct infomation"
    WOW! Never thought of that! Obviously I joined nursing for the glamour, and the chance of hooking myself a nice rich doctor to marry! Didn't think I might have to actually touch patients!
    Do you honestly think nurses or anyone else would be so ignorant? It seems the further up the nursing ladder someone gets, the more rose-tinted their glasses are!
    As a community nurse, Madeline sees her patients one at a time, which would be absolute heaven for ward-nurses.
    Unfortunately, we can have very ill patients who need intensive intervention, and at the same time have three buzzers going off. Do we ignore the acute patient to see the confused man who wants to phone his dead wife, or the irate man waiting to go home and moaning that his tablets haven't been delivered by pharmacy yet?
    It is not about "your poor time management", it is about not enough staff, and no one giving a damn about anything but budgets and targets.

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  • We have all heard of the Stockholm principle have we not. The blind leading the blind, following like sheep, this is what happens when you get worn down by working extra shifts, extra hours with no let up.
    We do care we do acutally love our job, but somewhere along the black, dark tunnel that ideal has been lost. Please someone turn on the lights!!

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