Guidance on allocating “named” nurses and doctors to patients for their whole hospital stay are to be published later this year, the health secretary has said.
In a speech last week, Jeremy Hunt praised the practice of putting the names of lead nurses and consultants above inpatient beds, which was adopted last year by University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust.
Mr Hunt said: “It is popular with patients, families and staff alike and can drive real culture change. Patients feel they are the most important person to that nurse, the person they feel safe with and the person who whilst they are on duty will be their advocate.
“They know which doctor is overseeing their care and who they can discuss their care and treatment with during their stay,” he added.
Based on this principle, Mr Hunt announced that “whole stay doctors” would be introduced in the NHS, who would be accountable for an entire inpatient care plan and be named above beds. However, he acknowledged there were instances where this role might be more applicable to a nurse.
“There may be times when the implementation of a joined-up care plan is delegated to other key clinical staff such as nurses,” he said. “I have asked the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges to develop guidance to support hospitals to take forward best practice, and this will be published in March.”
He added: “With improved continuity of care will come renewal and empowerment for staff. Because the system changes and barriers which impaired personalised care also de-professionalised and in places demoralised doctors and nurses.”
The health secretary’s announcement is in part a response to last February’s Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. It recommended “patients should be allocated for each shift a named key nurse responsible for coordinating the provision of the care needs for allocated patient”.
In its response to the report in November, the government said allocating named or key nurses to individual patients would not to be made mandatory but would be encouraged.
Mr Hunt was speaking during a visit to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust. He praised the trust’s chief nurse Eileen Sills and those involved in the “Barbara’s Story” project, under which all staff watch a short film about the experiences of a patient with dementia during a hospital visit.
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