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Gail Adams, Unison head of nursing, talks to NT about proposals for nursing quality benchmarks

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Gail Adams, Unison’s lead nurse, explains to NT her thoughts on a government decision to measure English nurses against a range of benchmarks to asses whether they are delivering care safely, effectively and with compassion.

NT: What does this mean for nurses?

GA: At that at this moment in time, nursing is only measured by negatives – infection control and drug incidents – the negative stuff.

What this will give, if it is done in the right way, it will measure the good things, the quality of nursing care.

It can be quite upsetting if you work on a ward that is all about infection control and drug incidents and not about how much hard work you are putting in. It will provides nurses with a equation where their work to be measured for the real contribution it makes

It will not just be the negative things that are measured but the things that patient’s value will be measured.

NT: How will it do this and what will the benefits be?

GA: There is a lot more detail to be worked out, but an intrinsic benefit that has not been picked up in that you can quantify how much of the nurse contribution is to the tariff and because you can quantify it you can show how much nurses contribute to the NHS.

It means you can put a business case forward based on that, It means you will be able to get more nurses or get more skill mix on the wards.

It will allow you to recognise their contribution and this in turn will give you information to show the good things that we are doing.

For example, if you think about a patient having a hip replacement and the tariff, what you do not know is how much is nursing, but if you can price nursing more effectively and demonstrate how much of a contribution nursing makes

It will have an impact of staffing levels because you will be able to put forward a strong argument to ask for more and also on morale because nurses will be recognised for the positive things they do.

When you can quantify that a patient was discharged early because of nurse involvement you can argue much more strongly why nurses are good for patients.

NT: Compassion and nursing ho hand in hand – is there not a risk that this could be seen as patronising?

GA: It is not about being patronising. What this will give, if it is done in the right way, it will measure the good things. There would be a communication problem if nurses see this as patronising because that is not the intention. It is not Big Brother watching you.

The bottom line is this is something nurses can grasp and it something they can benefit form. If nurses engage with this then it can be and will be a good thing for the profession.

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