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Inquiry hears of 'embryonic' nurse management at Mid Staffs

Nurse management at Stafford Hospital was “embryonic”, according to a nursing director who arrived at the trust after reports exposed high death rates linked to care failings there.

Julie Hendry joined the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust in November 2009 as interim director of nursing, more than six months after a damning Healthcare Commission report was published.

Appearing before the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry last week, she said that when she arrived at the trust “a lot of the basic infrastructure and policies weren’t in place”. She said the role of matrons was not clear at the trust and there was a “lack of [ward] ownership”.

She said patients reported they never saw matrons on the wards and there was not a “real relationship” between nurses and matrons.

She also told the inquiry there were 80 to 100 registered nurse vacancies when she arrived at the trust, representing over 15% of its nursing workforce.

Ms Hendry added that the practice development team, responsible for nurse training, were “unfocused”. She said: “They were teaching very complex electrocardiogram packages when I felt that they hadn’t actually focused down on some of the essentials, like slips, trips and falls training”.

She described the procedure for responding to patients’ complaints at the trust as “completely dysfunctional”, and that they were dealt with by “junior” non-clinical staff.

She said: “Sometimes the complaints team…didn’t quite transcribe the [complaints] statements properly because they didn’t really understand them, and so the complaint responses weren’t of a high quality. It was just completely unacceptable.”

Royal College of Nursing steward at Mid Staffs Sue Adams also faced the inquiry this month. She said nurses at the trust felt there was “little point” submitting incident reports because they felt nothing would be done.

She also said she was aware of an “allegation that a housekeeper was cleaning the director of nursing’s office and found more than 200 incident reports in the bin”.

The claim follows revelations that more than 500 staff incident reports made about staff shortages and care failings at the trust are currently missing (see news story ‘Nurses’ warnings about Mid Staffs were ignored’.)

Nurse management at Stafford Hospital was “embryonic”, according to a nursing director who arrived at the trust after reports exposed high death rates linked to care failings there.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • What a shambles..

    'a lot of the basic infrastructure and policies weren’t in place... the role of matrons was not clear at the trust and there was a lack of [ward] ownership'

    There's an 'allegation that a housekeeper cleaning the director of nursing’s office found more than 200 incident reports in the bin'

    Remember "NMC chief pledges to crack down on poor nursing practice" 15 Dec 2009? Well Mr Dickon Weir-Hughes when this enquiry is completed [one must assumes that's what the NMC is waiting for] the profession will be watching what you do about the DNS who presided over this scandal and who reportedly claimed said 'it was not her job to monitor ward standards'

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  • The director of nursing should be struck off forthwith.

    With something like that in post it is no wonder that nurses complain they are not respected.

    Lets hope they were not pushed out with a nice big golden handshake and now find themsevles on the proverbial scapheap where they can reign supreme.

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  • "Royal College of Nursing steward at Mid Staffs Sue Adams also faced the inquiry this month. She said nurses at the trust felt there was “little point” submitting incident reports because they felt nothing would be done."

    In this case why didn't she take the complaints further to the RCN and DoH or whoever has overall responsibility. If she was an RCN steward she should have had backing from the RCN and if she did not she should have insisted. She should have also reported the complaints to the NMC although they probably would not get involved!

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