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New Mid Staffs nurse director vows never again


Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust’s new nursing director has said he is adamant he “cannot let the past re-emerge” and will hold staff to account if they do not meet care standards.

A number of nurses have been suspended by the scandal hit trust in the past six months.

Colin Ovington, who joined as nursing director at the beginning of June, told Nursing Times there had been a high number of suspensions, but said reports that this had been as high as 15 were wrong.

He said there had been several suspensions since his arrival. Some were because there was evidence that nurses had not met standards in the past, and others were due to more recent failures.

He said: “Where we challenge someone, that is done in a fair and open way. It is a fair blame approach, but I cannot allow the past [poor standards] to re‑emerge.”

Mr Ovington said the trust would continue to challenge nurses whose work fell short of the trust’s standards.

But he added the main reason for problems with nursing at the trust were poor leadership and senior management in the past.

The Francis inquiry into events at the trust was particularly critical of Jan Harry, the trust’s nursing director from February 1998 to July 2006.

Mr Ovington said the past problems at the trust “demonstrate that leadership is crucial and does have a major influence on an organisation”.

“Here, it had a very negative influence. The consequences have led to serious flaws in patient care and serious deficits in leadership through the hierarchy down to ward level.”

Several senior nurses have been appointed since the scandal emerged in March last year, and Mr Ovington is planning a programme of leadership training.

He said he was also planning to develop a nursing strategy that would make clear nurses’ role in the trust’s safety and quality priorities. It would also help improve nurses’ morale, he said, which was still poor.

Mr Ovington said: “This trust is desperately calling out for a nursing strategy to pull nurses back together and give them confidence.

“I hear stories every day that show morale is not what it should be, but I also find people who are really enthusiastic in the work that they do.”


Readers' comments (10)

  • Phil Dup

    Is he also going to ensure that ALL Nursing staff get their contracted breaks and get off work at the time they are supposed to - ie ensure PRACTICAL NURSE /PATIENT staffing ratios.
    I note the article states several ' Senior ' Nurses have been appointed recently - how many extra 'hands on' Nurses have been appointed within the same time frame ?

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  • Exactly Phil! And will staff be able to hold HIM to account when these things do not emerge? I don't think so!

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  • A bit harsh Mike.

    To bring this Trust back on track it will take all nurses within the trust to pull together rather than a them and us mentality.

    The guy has only been in post since June so it is a bit early to make judgements. All nurses must be held to account regardless of their position. Those nursing staff, who through no fault of their own have struggled to provide a service in spite of the difficulties, need our support as they try to pull things around.

    It is true that more front line nursing staff are needed, but unless the nursing service, that continues to provide care are given a break from what has been unrelenting media pressure, where will these extra staff come from?

    Who wants to work in a trust that has a poor reputation?

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  • The problems at staffordshire were down to non existant RN to patient ratios. I know people who worked their. One RN and 2 HCAs would be left covering a 30 bed ward. No wonder they had to run past patients screaming for help and leave people on the floor.

    Prepare to see a lot more staffordshires as the hospitals continue to reduce their bedside RN numbers whilst dramatically saying "Oh never again!".

    Cannot believe these lying SOBs.

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  • Doug, a bit harsh on him personally maybe (for now), but certainly not on his rank.

    As Anna very rightly says, the biggest problems (not just in this trust) are almost always down to a lack of QUALIFIED Nursing staff.

    I would like to say that I think this man would ensure that the Nurse patient ratio would be adequate, but I really do not think this will happen. As the article suggests, it is the same old rhetoric without any of the real solutions. If he proves me wrong, then I will be very happy to eat my words.

    Your point about the individual Staff Nurses and the media I do agree with however, and just for clarification, the individual Staff Nurses I do support wholeheartedly.

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  • Phil Dup

    Totally right Anna and Mike - as per most of the Media / Patients percieved faults in the NHS (with we Nurses seeming to be the 'culprits') its can always be boiled down to totally inadequate Nurse / Patient Ratios.

    Police Bosses would not expect 2 Police Officers to manage a large scale gang fight and Fire Bosses would not expect 2 Firefighters to manage a full scale house fire. So how come our illustrious Nursing Bosses think its ok for 2 trained Nurses to manage 28 bed wards with lots of constant demands.

    It is physically impossible to be with 6 or 7 patients at the same time to be doing essential work so something has to give.
    Once its given then the press get hold of it and twist it in their special poisonous way to make out we are fundamentally flawed and only suspensions and sackings are good enough.

    If this new Nursing Director gets plenty more staff 'on the floor' where it counts then I'll give him credit - however if he turns out like so many of the other Clipboard Toting, CV Building Corporate Bullspeaking NHS Weasels then I'll expect him to be booted asap.

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  • 6 to 7 patients. Ha ha ha. We are now down to 1 or 2 or RN's and 2 cadets to 28 acute medical and geriatric patients on my ward.

    We reported this to the RCN, the NMC, the press, to Unison, wrote letters to the chief Nurse and Executives, the DOH etc etc.

    Guess what. No one cares. But when lapses in care occurs everyone is ready to jump on the bandwagon screaming about over educated nurses who need discipline. What a joke.

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  • Phil Dup

    The management are certainly extracting the urine there Anna and you have ceratinly done all the right things by letting all and sundry know.

    A liitle tip that may work (it has for me a few times) is when complaining really make it stand out visually - all organisations nowadays are awash with paperwork/ email/ telephone calls so its easy to get buried away and forgotten.

    If I have complaints to any organisation I now use the massive sheets of flip chart paper and a marker pen to write extensive details of the problem they need to know about.

    Once that is in someones In -Tray it attracts attention from everyone in the department and cannot be easily lost or misfiled.

    A few years ago I had problems with NHSP over back pay I was owed - drove me crackers as it went on for nearly a year with emails / phone calls / letters etc being bounced around from pillar to post.

    Finally wrote a massive diatribe detailing everything on a few sheets of flip chart paper - put em in a massive envelope then posted it to NHSP complaints. I got a cheque for nearly £2000 approx 12 days later !

    It might work !

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  • Problem is that the NHS costs too much already so we are already pretty well stuffed. Unless we follow the rest of the civilised world and realise that 1 RN can only look after up to 6 patients....legally enforcible mind, things are going to get worse. I work in an ICU setting and already our staffing levels are being examined to see if they can reduce our numbers as they have already gotten ward levels down to dangerous numbers. Nobody cares about the old, sick and frail. Most MPs have BUPA so think that the NHS is somebody elses problem. Cameroon and his cronies will continue Thatcher's legacy and privatise whats left of the NHS.

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  • Our hospital has engaged a 'turn around team' to try and identify where savings can be made, having already reduced our staffing numbers over the last six months (I work in the operating theatres) we have now been informed that we are to work with 1 'scrub practitioner' for each theatre apparently because the turn around team have decided that they can 'get rid of' the forty plus vacancies we have within our department and only have to employ a few more staff (I can't imagine that any one of these people have ever worked in an operating theatre) we are dealing with complex major operations throughout a ten hour shift, surely PATIENT SAFETY ought to be a factor here though that does not appear to be the case. This will also have a massive impact on training new staff and students as we will be unable to do this safely.

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