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Correct staffing key to good NHS 'customer care', says business leader

Getting staffing levels right is part and parcel of ensuring patients get the best “customer care”, according to an independent review of the way the Welsh NHS handles complaints.

The government-commissioned review by Keith Evans, former chief executive and managing director of electronics manufacturer Panasonic, makes more than 100 recommendations for improving the complaints process.

“Whatever job someone has in the NHS, they should think of themselves wearing their patients’ shoes”

Keith Evans

In his report, published yesterday, Mr Evans highlighted the importance of knowing the skills of staff and “how many hands you need on the job”.

“Asking people to work in the wrong ratios can cause poor quality, incidents and risk so this is a seriously studied matter in industry,” the report stated.

It goes on to warn that nurses under pressure are at risk of developing “compassion fatigue”, while the increasing amount of admin “is diverting nursing attention”.

“In tough work circumstances you try so hard that you do get compassion fatigue,” said the report. “This can be especially in high-tension nursing or clinical settings, or where extended shifts are a routine.

“There are also peak moments of pressure that are predictable each week in terms of the pattern of services and demand that can create fatigue if not adequately staffed up,” it added.

Mr Evans’ recommendations include the need for a “no blame culture” to ensure lessons can be learned from people who have had bad experiences of care.

The procedure for making complaints should also be made clearer and promoted to patients and their families. Meanwhile, health boards should spend more time analysing incidents and complaints.

“Executives and senior staff in all areas must lead the required change from the front and by good example,” said Mr Evans.

“Furthermore, whatever job someone has in the NHS, they should think of themselves wearing their patients’ shoes and put themselves in their position at all times. Doing so will quickly reveal the daily issues of what is going right and wrong.”

Health minister for Wales Mark Drakeford welcomed the findings.

Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford

“We need to do all we can to allow patients to put forward their concerns effectively and simply,” he said.

“At the same time we must not create a climate where staff feel under siege, as this report has found.”

Readers' comments (11)

  • We are in "No shit, Sherlock!" territory again, aren't we?

    Yet another expensive report to tell us what every sharp end nurse already knew...

    Personally I spent years, as a ward manager or a community team leader, arguing with managers about staffing levels and adequate skill mix, to the point that I was forbidden from raising the issue any more.

    And can we please stop using the term "customer care"? Customers exercise spending choices, which means our customers are the commissioners. If "patient care" is what is meant can we just say so?

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  • That is a blinding flash of the obvious, but Government and Senior NHS executives are all money focused so it will never happen unless they are willing to accept that the NHS is an ever expanding expensive entity that is going to cost billions to remain free at the point of delivery or rethink how it is funded. To expect a high quality service with knowledgeable and experienced front line professionals does not come cheap and this is what the NHS and Government currently want, high quality service on peanuts!!!!

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  • michael stone

    BasketPress | 3-Jul-2014 11:05 am

    We are in "No shit, Sherlock!" territory again, aren't we?

    Looks like it to me !

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  • Obvious to front line staff maybe but it seems less than obvious to a more senior level who appoint people to 'quality' posts and the like to try to fix problems from above rather than address 'the obvious'. So I for one am glad and relieved when someone states what I have been thinking/staying as it makes me feel that maybe I am not going mad or being too simplistic.

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  • How do you get the gig writing these bleedin' obvious reports?

    I retired last year, so I have some time...

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  • Anonymous | 3-Jul-2014 6:40 pm

    Fair point.

    However, many people, certainly in trusts I worked for, in management posts HAD been clinicians, so there is little excuse for them seeming not to know what is obvious to sharp end nurses.

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  • Just when did patients become customers? I agree with the folks who say "no s**t Sherlock!"

    As a retired nurse and midwife and a many times patient I can tell you from both sides of the blanket that patients are not customers. No one I know or have ever met would pay for the need to be in a hospital bed and no one I know or have ever met paid to get "better" care than the person in the bed next to them.

    Quality care is given by quality people who know that they are respected and treated as quality people!

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  • Next up: Bears really do defecate in their normal habitat, this commonly being the woods.

    And it's taken some business expert to come up with this? I could have told them this for a fraction of the price they probably paid this person.

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  • Doh! And all this time we were suspicious of a correlation between good staff numbers and good patient care but we needed an expert report to confirm this for sure! God bless the report writers and those who pay for them - not!

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  • tinkerbell

    those who have been born and raised in the NHS as was are in for a bit of shock aren't we when we become 'customers' who are there only to make a profit for private providers who will choose whether or not they want to treat us. The secretary of state will no longer have a duty to provide care.

    Sorry but this is the sad, sad mess we now find ourselves in because we are either ignorant of what has been going on, don't care what has been going on, or can't believe what is going on. Time to get informed before May 2015 because the NHS as we knew it is on its last legs.

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  • These things are really getting annoying now. 25 years nursing and all the time we are told the obvious. Put good quality nurses on the front line. Pay them to be on the front line and listen to what they say.
    Nurses who want to be managers and move away from patient care should be paid as admin staff.
    Keep good nurses nuring and pay them for their expertise in the 6c's. Things I have always done, by the way as a band 5 nurse.

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