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NT talks to Anna Walker of the Healthcare Commission on RCN Congress

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A three-minute interview with Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, on her thoughts following her visit to RCN Congress and the lessons that can be learnt from the Clostridium difficile outbreak at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

NT: What conclusions have you drawn from the debates so far?

AW: ‘Nursing care is very important. Nurses are the experts and as nursing care is important what we want is a real debate with the RCN about what it is that we can be measuring to ensure good quality nursing care.

‘We do have in our work found some situations where clearly nursing care has not been up to standard.

‘There is a thread through this about quality of nursing care…but these are the exceptions not the rule.’

NT: What lessons can be learnt from the outbreak?

‘The nurses at Maidstone and Tunbridge wells did not set out in their career in their training thinking that is what they were going to do.

‘What the Healthcare Commission is about is understanding what has gone clinically wrong that has allowed that to happen. What is most important is we have a system in place to prevent that from happening.

‘Where the report shows there is a quality of care issue, there is often problems with leadership and management do not have the processes in place.

NT: What are your thoughts about the discussion on A&E targets.

‘Our own work shows in the A&E targets if you look at admissions into hospitals there can be consequences for them meeting A&E targets.

‘If patients are moved out quickly they maybe moved into wards that are less appropriate for their needs. They might be in hospital longer because consultants might not be able to look after their needs.

‘There are knock on consequences for the rest of the system. I am not saying that the A&E target is bad…it does a lot for patients. But we do have to look at the consequences of it and ensure adverse consequences are identified and we deal with them.’

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