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Maidstone nurses speak out over C. diff deaths

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The trust at the centre of last month’s Clostridium difficile scandal was more concerned about meeting government targets than with patient care, warn nurses who work there.

The trust at the centre of last month’s Clostridium difficile scandal was more concerned about meeting government targets than with patient care, warn nurses who work there.

Nurses at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have struck back at its former chairperson, James Lee, who previously blamed staff for poor care, saying he had ‘tarred them all with the same brush’ (NT News, 23 October, p3).

The majority of nurses had continued to try to provide high-quality care, even though the former management’s overriding focus on targets and finances meant patients often came second, they told NT.

Hilary Bulmer, a ward manager at the Kent trust, said: ‘As a nurse you’re always focused on patients but our [former] trust management were more focused on money and targets’.

Colleague and acting ward manager Louise Todd said that the Healthcare Commission’s report, which was published in October, supported her view that the trust had lost sight of patient care.

‘It was a realisation that patients are not commodities from M&S or Tesco – they’re someone’s mother or brother or lover in those beds,’ she said. ‘I think that’s what we’d lost sight of, because we were being run in a businesslike way.’

Nurses at the trust also criticised previous management for failing to listen to concerns of staff on the wards.

‘Mr Lee never really took time out to come to the wards,’ said Ms Bulmer. ‘In the whole time he was chairperson I might have met him twice – at Christmas when he’d come round with a box of biscuits.’

Mechanisms are now in place for weekly meetings between ward sisters and site matrons. Nurses said dialogue between the new management and frontline staff was good. ‘There’s definitely a nicer culture within our trust,’ Ms Todd said.

The trust has implemented numerous changes since the 90 deaths took place between 2004 and 2006. Its C. difficile rates are now below England’s national average.

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