The NHS is still reeling from the catastrophic care failures uncovered at Stafford Hospital. Beyond the Bedpan has one question - what now?
The frank conclusions of the Robert Francis Inquiry into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Hospitals Trust were felt far and wide this week.
Hospital managers bore the brunt of the criticism. Staff shortages and a lack of leadership led to chaos in the A&E department, with one doctor saying nurses were forced to work extra hours and “were desperately moving from place to place to try to give adequate care to patients”. The results were predictably dire: “If you are in that environment for long enough, you become immune to the sound of pain.”
Others pointed to a slavish commitment to the four-hour target, leading to 96 complaints about inappropriate discharge from patients who were effectively sent home before they were ready or well.
Nurses were not blameless. The attitude of some “left a lot to be desired”, the inquiry heard. Examples of patients being left in sheets soiled with urine or faeces make painful reading for all concerned.
The outrage and recriminations will continue. But the million dollar question (not to be confused with the departing chief exec’s £400,000 pay-off) is simple: how can we make sure this does not happen again?
The latest from a Nursing Times survey suggests that 20% of nurses think the serious care failures at Mid Staffs could happen where they work. Whether fair or not, nurses themselves will shoulder a lot of the responsibility for making sure they do not.
We may not be the problem, but we can be the solution. Nursing is the single most powerful force for improving patient care in the NHS. When things go wrong, will you do something about it?