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Productive ward goes global

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The productive ward programme, pioneered by hospital nurses in England, has now been successfully exported to at least six countries around the world.

The initiative for improving patient care and efficiency from the frontline up has been adopted by nurses in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the Netherlands, Canada and Denmark.

It is currently used by 76 wards in New Zealand and 2,500 nursing staff are involved across the country. Hospitals there have reported that direct patient care time has increased from 39% to 59%, handover time between shifts has been cut from 25-30 minutes to 10-15 minutes, and medication errors have been slashed by 85%.

In Canada, more than 50 wards now run the programme, and in the US, four hospitals are piloting the programme in the state of Oregon.

Pam Steinke, chief nurse executive of the St Charles Medical Center, in Oregon, one of the hospitals taking part in the US pilot, described the programme as “the opportunity of a lifetime”.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s this brilliant idea that is really grass roots,” she said. “It opens up staff engagement, really pushing decision-making to the bedside”.

The Releasing Time to Care: The Productive Ward programme was developed by NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and formally launched in England in January 2008.

It has been adopted by the majority of NHS acute trusts and has since been joined by six other similar programmes for other settings, the most recent of which is Productive General Practice.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I am writing this anonymously because if the productive ward thought police at my Trust get hold of this I am likely to be subject to an intense program of political re-education including the NHS equivalent of water boarding before being burned at the stake as a heretic. But am I the only person who thinks that this initiative (productive ward syndrome) is a complete and utter load of B****cks?

    We unveiled this policy, or rather its bastard son, “Productive community team, releasing time to care (the sequel)” to great applause in our Trust recently. The net impact of the initiative was we tidied the office, rewrote the white board (legibly) with the patient’s details and tidied up the clinic room drug cupboard.

    The net impact of the initiative on what we do and how we do it? Nothing, zilch. Nada, sod all. The office is as big a mess as it always was, the board is its usual illegible self only the clinic room has not reverted to its former self and that is because no one uses it now that all the equipment we used to store there has been removed.

    If the trust really wanted to release time to care they would give the ridiculous woman who comes round our office wasting our time with this nonsense a proper job.




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  • The "Productive Ward" idea is in theory a really good idea. In practice I am not so sure.

    The idea stemmed from a corporate working ethic in Japan when dignataries from the UK visited the Toyota car plant there and learnt about the productive workplace. Two years later cars were recalled due to brakes failing.

    There are some very good points to this though, the fact that we could spend more time with patients is one. Unfortunately with the cut backs and staff shortages, the refusal to cover staff sickness etc. it makes the idea null and void.

    The store room was cleaned and things put away tidily. Things not used more than once a week were taken off the stock list and had to be ordered. Forget the fact that these are then impossible to get hold of at night or on a weekend because it would be unthinkable that a patient would act differently to a Toyota.

    The initial set up of the productive ward was set up on my ward by the two worst people I could imagine. The bin next to the sink for paper towels was moved 12 feet away because it was supposedly more productive. The board was replaced with a multicoloured monstrosity which distracted everyone from the writing and the names of all the staff were put on magnetic name plates and then thrown in a box which meant you had to spend twice as long looking for them as it did writing their names on the board. The few times a bank nurse was employed on the ward they were known as SN NRP. Very heart warming.

    Last thing I would like to mention about this once in a lifetime opportunity is, It does not work as well as it did in the showroom.

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