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Health checks for ‘bed sores’

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The Healthcare Commission is to publish proposals to annually measure hospitals’ performance in preventing pressure ulcers and assigning individual care plans to patients, NT has learnt.

The commission’s chief executive, Anna Walker, told NT the measures were to be included in its annual health checks from next year. The measures will be inspired by Essence of Care benchmarks, which have been drawn up by nurses and patients over the last eight years, she said.

Some elements, such as dignity, are already incorporated into the annual health checks, which rate the performance of all NHS trusts in England each year.

But Ms Walker said that she wanted to go further and include benchmarks on pressure ulcers and on whether patients have been assigned care plans in the checks.

The commission is currently in talks with the RCN and the Department of Health about how to take the plan forward and is due to make an announcement providing more detail in June.

‘What we know is that where there are not individual care plans, you often get problems,’ Ms Walker told NT.

Linda Nazarko, nurse consultant in intermediate unscheduled care at Ealing PCT in London, said: ‘I think that it is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with quality indicators as long as they are linked with outcomes.’

Last week Ms Walker hosted a fringe event at the RCN’s annual congress in Bournemouth, where nurses raised concerns that poor management was letting them down. They blamed a lack of support from managers for the outbreak of Clostridium difficile at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which contributed to the deaths of around 90 patients.

Ms Walker said that nursing care was, on the whole, of very high quality – and that hospital management must give nurses the tools to do their jobs properly. ‘Where there is a quality of care issue, there is often problems with leadership and management,’ she said.

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