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Matron to oversee ward where patients restrained

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A matron has been brought in to oversee elderly care at a London hospital where nurses inappropriately restrained patients with bed sheets and braces.

The appointment was made at Northwick Park Hospital, after Harrow PCT was informed a patient had been strapped
to a chair with a bed sheet last November.

A PCT investigation found that five of the ward's patients had been inappropriately restrained between October and November 2007.

Staffing levels on the ward were at a minimum, none of the nurses had been given restraint training and communication of policy was poor, according to the report.

At the time of the incidents, the ward was managed by the PCT. Control transferred back to North West London Hospitals NHS Trust in April because of the PCT's financial difficulties.

PCT chief executive Sarah Crowther has apologised for the incidents. 'Internal disciplinary action has been taken,' she said. 'Training has been introduced to ensure all staff provide the best possible care for vulnerable patients,' she added.

The hospital trust has also implemented measures including a new restraint policy, a new staffing skill-mix and training on error reporting, as well as the introduction of the elderly care matron.

The RCN will this week launch a Practice Support Network to provide nurses with support and advice on how to deliver care that is 'compassionate, sensitive and respectful'.

Pauline Ford, the college's nursing adviser for older people, said: 'Patient safety and the delivery of quality dignified patient care is absolutely vital.'

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Up to 93% of nurses believe that current rules and standards on the restraint of patients are not clear enough, suggests a snapshot poll on

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