Theatre nurses at a hospital in North Yorkshire will now be caring for patients throughout their whole procedure – from the moment they go to sleep in the anaesthetic room, to the moment they wake up in the recovery room.
Nurses at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have launched the new service at Friarage Hospital. The initiative places two nurses in every theatre to stay with patients from start to finish, as part of a new drive to ensure continuity of care.
Usually, the operating department has just one anaesthetic nurse in each theatre, plus another group of nurses waiting for patients to arrive in recovery.
Under this new way of working at Friarage, better use will be made of staff working hours as it reduces time lost waiting to handover patients, explained the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The initiative, developed by theatre unit manager Sarah Baker, will also help to improve the way patients are cared for by ensuring continuity of care.
The trust highlighted that continuity of care also helped to reduce the risk of errors and cut turnaround times so more patients could be operated on each day.
“It was a big culture change, but our nurses, operating department practitioners, surgeons and anaesthetists have really embraced it”
Ms Baker said: “It was a big culture change, but our nurses, operating department practitioners, surgeons and anaesthetists have really embraced it.
“I feel really proud of the staff, the department and how smoothly it runs,” she said.
“I see how well it works and how much more effective it is,” said Ms Baker. “More than anything, it makes the department seem very calm.”
“Ultimately, it’s about the continuation of care for patients, improved patient experience and, because of the reduction in handovers, improved patient safety,” she added.
Ms Baker highlighted that the new way of working had been welcomed by patients and that one had said “I felt that the nurse knew me and understood how anxious I was”.
The trust noted that the initiative would be used when staffing levels allow it.