As a board member of a trust put into special measures after a series of high-profile problems including patient deaths, a director of nursing’s first instinct might be to stay below the media parapet – even if the problems didn’t happen on her watch. However, Sue Smith of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust has come out fighting to change perceptions of her trust and in particular its nurses and midwives in an exclusive interview with Nursing Times.
Ms Smith is making it clear that the trust is learning from the tragic errors in its recent past, and using the lessons to improve care and patient safety. She is also pointing out the “cracking job” frontline nurses and midwives are now doing, keen for them to get recognition for their achievements.
And Ms Smith is determined to ensure the trust continues learning from problems and adverse incidents. However, in future she wants that learning to take place at an early stage, before minor problems escalate and lead to tragedies.
She believes the trust, an early supporter of our Speak Out Safely campaign, has now created a culture in which staff are encouraged and helped to raise concerns and that these will be addressed rather than ignored or covered up.
The trust still has much to do to get a clean bill of health from the Care Quality Commission. However, it’s refreshing to see a director of nursing so determined to help it move on from the tragedies of its past without forgetting them or their impact on patients, families and the wider community.
Perhaps Morecambe Bay will become one of the first healthcare providers where staff who raise concerns are celebrated and acknowledged as crucial to maintaining quality and safety.