Nurses will soon be able to benchmark the quality of patient care against other trusts in England under a new strategic health authority initiative.
As part of the ‘Energise for Excellence in Care’ movement – an initiative to help improve fundamental nursing care – nurses will be able to use a ‘safer nursing care tool’ to compare data on nurse-specific quality indicators, such as those for falls, pressure ulcers and nutrition.
The tool is being adapted by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and should be available on its website by the end of November.
The new nursing aid is based on the ‘acuity/dependency’ tool developed by the Association of UK University Hospitals. This tool helps categorise patients depending on their conditions (for example ‘stable’ or ‘unstable’) and can then be used to help inform staffing levels, skill mix and workforce development needs.
The nurses leading Energising for Excellence hope that by incorporating quality indicators into the new tool, it will enable nurses to deliver evidence-based care, including the development of new services when appropriate.
Patient care indicators are key to the drive to improve quality set out in Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review of the NHS, which was published last summer.
In May this year, the government published a list of more than 200 quality indicators that trusts could use to improve services across the NHS.
Dame Chrsintine Beasley, chief nursing officer for England, is also working on a set of indicators that are particularly relevant to nurses and midwives and has set up an advisory board to help with this task.
A report commissioned by the CNO and published last autumn recommended failure to rescue, healthcare-associated infections, falls and pressure sores as the ‘best bets’ for measuring the quality of nursing care.
With the NHS facing the threat of spending cuts from 2011, the Department of Health is also keen to see how innovation driven by care metrics can help the NHS save money as well as improving quality.
NHS chief executive DAvid Nicholson has said he will take personal responsibility for the ‘quality, innovation, productivity and prevention’ (or QIPP) initiative. It will also be the focus of the DH management board - of which Dame Christine is a member.
‘Energise for Excellence in Care’ is a Department of Health-funded movement that is being led by senior nurses at the 10 English strategic health authorities. It is hoped that it will play a part in helping the nursing profession conribute to the QIPP drive.
However, Katherine Fenton, chief nurse at NHS South Central, who is leading the initiative alongside Jane Cummings, chief nurse at NHS North West, was keen to stress that the movement also has wider goals.
‘It is about creating a movement within the profession to get nurses to focus on the things that really matter to patients,’ she said. ‘We’ve had a rough few years in the NHS but we want to create energy at grass roots level, the only place that matters.’
She added. ‘It is about getting the energy back into caring and giving nurses the permission to say what should be being done. We want to make quality personal, and encourage nurses to ask themselves how they would feel about the quality of care they are delivering.’
Deputy chief nurses from all 10 SHAs are working with senior nurses across England to help them implement the movement. Each SHA will also appoint a national project manager to oversee the implementation of the initiative.
The plan is for the initiative to have its own section on the Department of Health website, which will link with the safer care tool on the NHS Instititue website.