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Productivity drive for community nurses

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A major productivity drive has been launched for community settings, which could see nurses increasing the amount of time they spend with patients by two-thirds.

The productive community services programme was launched last week by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement. It is the latest in the institute’s productive series, which started with the productive ward in January 2008.

The module-based toolkit allows frontline nurses to measure how much time they spend on everyday tasks, and then identify and implement creative ways of freeing up time for direct patient care.

The district nurse development team at Southampton Community Healthcare helped pilot the programme. The six-member team, which provides care to around 176 housebound patients, developed a visual “at a glance” scorecard on staff morale, patient experience, quality of service and productivity in order to measure quality.

District nurse Helen Gillingham, who led the initiative, said it had allowed the nursing team to play a much greater role in decision making, which in turn had increased time spent on direct patient care.

“[Previously] we spent a lot of time collecting data for our managers, but got very little response,” she said.

Ms Gillingham said the programme had allowed the team to “unlock the jargon” used by NHS managers, helping them “be a part of the decision making process” about their service. “We now have a more direct impact on the care we provide,” she said.

 

Findings from pilot sites:
Patient facing time up from 21% to 35%
Number of team visits increased by 25%
Driving distances reduced by 21%
Time managing referrals down 83%
Time looking for stock items cut by 66%

The programme was launched at the Challenge for Community Services conference in London. Speaking at the conference, national director for improvement and efficiency Jim Easton said: “The productive series has been transformational in the acute sector and has every chance of being equally transformational [in the community]. I think it’s a really key driver for change.”

He also said nursing as a whole would play a “pivotal role” in making the NHS more efficient as it sought to save up to £20bn by 2014. He added: “We are looking to nurses to be bold and ambitious and to help to shape the way we take this agenda forward.”

As reported by Nursing Times (news, page 1, 22 September), the chief nursing officer for England has been running a consultation asking the profession to suggest “high impact” actions to save money while improving patient care.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Very interesting, however, the usually rheotorically idealistic rubbish. I am a district nurse team leader experiencing, unfilled vacancies due to organisational post freeze, escalating sickness levels amongst those members of my team trying to meet demand and an increasing beaurocratically designed care delivery environment which cost time!!!

    I rest my case.

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