Ward sisters at a hospital criticised by the Care Quality Commission are forced to spend 40% of their time on bureaucracy, an independent review has found.
CQC inspectors reported “major” concerns about standards of nutrition when they visited Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust as part of a programme of dignity and nutrition spot checks at 100 hospitals earlier this year. It described patients being prescribed water to make sure they had regular drinks.
An independent review of the trust by Professor Janice Stevens, nurse and former Department of Health director of healthcare acquired infections and mixed sex accommodation, found it was now compliant with the nutrition standard.
But she was critical of the trust’s rota system, which means sisters spend only three days a week on the ward. Of the remaining two days, they are expected to spend on-call helping co-ordinate bed management across the trust’s two hospitals and one day in the office dealing with admin tasks such as recruitment and audit.
Professor Stevens said: “It is genuinely hard to see how they can effectively fulfil their role as leaders when they are unable to be ‘in-charge’ of their ward on a daily basis.”
She recommended the trust review who should be responsible for the admin tasks that are currently left to sisters and matrons.
Speaking at the NHS Confederation annual conference last week, CQC chief executive Cynthia Bowyer gave an update on the inspection programme, which is carried out by teams including a senior nurse.
Results are in for 68 of the 100 trusts, but only 57 have been found to fully comply with both dignity and nutrition standards. At least 11 hospitals have failed to meet both standards, of which two have “quite serious issues”, Ms Bower said.
She said the biggest difference between trusts failing and passing was “simply people being kind”.
Last week the CQC revealed Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust and East Sussex Healthcare Trust were the latest two trusts not complying with its standards.