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Mid Staffs findings will 'blow the lid' on older patient care, says tsar

The government’s advisor on elderly care has warned the public inquiry into events at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust will “blow the lid” on the need to improve care in hospitals.

David Oliver, Department of Health national clinical director for older people, was speaking at the Long Term Conditions 2012 conference in London on Wednesday. He is a consultant physician in geriatrics.

Professor Oliver said poor care for the increasing number of older people in hospitals, and how to improve it, was one of the major issues facing nursing.

He said such a large proportion of people in hospital were older and that as a result issues like dignity in care should not be treated as only an issue for elderly care, but for all inpatient care.

Nursing Times reported last month that the Mid Staffs public inquiry – led by Robert Francis QC – is considering education and training and the role of healthcare assistants as key policy issues.

Professor Oliver said reports highlighting failures would continue to be published and be seized on by the media. He said: “They will come out as a drip, drip [process] and the Daily Mail will be on that.

“The Francis report [the public inquiry into Mid Staffs] is going to blow the lid off some of these issues of what I call essential nursing care.”

Royal College of Nursing adviser on older people’s care Amanda Cheesley told the conference there were serious problems with hospital care.

In particular she said those coming into nursing should do so to provide good care, and nurse training should change. She said: “We need to be looking at the education of the staff going into nursing professions.

“We should be looking at the training and saying, ‘We are going to be teaching you about aging and how to support people who are older. Of course you need to know about the acute side but there needs to be a core element that makes is very clear that if you aren’t interested in caring for older people it may not be the job for you.

“We need to recruit people into the profession for the future that have a real interest in and are passionate for looking after older people.”

Readers' comments (10)

  • Will the staffings levels at mid staffs be released, with the best will in the world it is impossible to provide quality care without adequate staff. Bin the paperwork trained staff have to plough through and you will find care improves.

    I am passionate about providing good care for older people but am frustrated that the HCW provide the care I am trained to do and I am responsible for whilst I spend hours with a pen in my hand. The whole system has gone crazy.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 2-Feb-2012 3:52 pm

    Well said. Lovely to hear the word 'passionate'. I hope, along with you that one day we can actually get back to 'more nursing' and less 'paper shuffling' I gave up being a secretary to become a nurse.

    When our ward doctor asked me today when I was going to be applying for the matron post (he was joking), i said 'no, i've been there and came back down to ward sister as I much prefer being 'hands on'. He said he totally agreed and missed being more hands on himself.

    It is good to know that despite all the continual change and confusion nurses remain 'passionate'.

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  • Attaching link to the Francis Report: read it and weep.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 3-Feb-2012 9:24 am

    It's an abysmal read. Thanks for passing it on.

    Whatever was going on on Ward 6 that gets numerous mentions.

    Was this hospital accepting student nurses? What were their impressions?

    All these relatives can't be wrong. So many patients dying following routine procedures. Other relatives saying the care was 'great'. Were there 2 sets of cultures within one hospital?

    “Whenever you tried to ask the nurses or other senior person any questions, they
    were never around or, as happened one day refused to come
    out of the office.”

    Refused to come out of the office - why? Was it too scarey on the ward? Senior management never around, we all know that's true on occasions.

    Hope this isn't just more lip service and some ACTION will be taken in a timely manner to ensure that standards are maintained and improved at all levels across all hospitals. Damning reports like this damn us all even if we are good, caring staff. Mud sticks.

    Our unit had a very bad reputation a few years ago and was going to be shut down. We were redployed there as a 'turn around team' and now we have turned things around, but there are some outside trainers who still tell prospective student nurses before their placement 'oh dear' and would say no more. How anxiety provoking for a student. I found this out from one of my students, informed upper management and asked them to deal with it and they have hopefully. Those who say it can't be done shouldn't stand in the way of those who are doing it.

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  • michael stone

    The bit I can't quite follow, is WILL blow the lid.

    Isn't the lid already not only blown off, but blasted into space ?

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  • michael stone

    tinkerbell | 3-Feb-2012 11:07 am

    It is obvious to everyone who wasn't there, that something was badly wrong at Mid Staffs. And, as for your comment:

    'Hope this isn't just more lip service and some ACTION will be taken in a timely manner to ensure that standards are maintained and improved at all levels across all hospitals.'

    I couldn't agree more !

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  • tinkerbell

    michael stone | 3-Feb-2012 11:30 am

    Yes but my perception of 'timely' and theirs may be in 2 different time zones sadly.

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  • michael stone

    tinkerbell | 3-Feb-2012 12:39 pm

    I also tend to disagree with people about 'timely' - the Head of EoLC at DH e-mails me with 'we'll see how it looks in a few years time' and I'll send back 'it shouldn't take 10 years - it really isn't that difficult, just tell people to do sensible things !' or the equivalent.

    But these reports keep coming out, they basically say very similar things, and if you get another saying the same things 5 or 10 years alter, the reports are a waste of time !

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  • tinkerbell

    michael stone | 3-Feb-2012 3:39 pm

    Michael one can only hope that these changes for the better occur within our lifetime then if this is the pace they are marching at.

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  • michael stone

    tinkerbell | 4-Feb-2012 5:13 pm

    There is some evidence of progress in the area of concern to me, but it is painfully slow and there is a sort of 'mental block' still present.

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