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'Patients need rights' CQC chief insists


Patients should have a set of rights they can expect to be upheld in their care in order to improve standards in hospitals and other care settings, according to the head of the Care Quality Commission.

Speaking at the Dignity Commission set up by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and the Local Government Association to examine what has gone wrong in older people’s care, Cynthia Bower said the idea of patients rights seemed to have been lost.

Asked to what she attributed some of the poor care exposed during the CQC’s recent dignity and nutrition inspections, Ms Bower said resources could be a factor but culture and staff attitudes were more important.

“We saw wards where there were nurses standing around not attending to [patients]. I think this notion that you should have simple rights in relation to your care of could be really effective… we seem to have lost track of it,” she added.

Ms Bower’s appearance came the day after the Patients Association launched its CARE campaign to tackle the most common complaints about basic care: lack of nutrition; patients not being helped to go to the toilet; inadequate pain relief and poor communication, with ignored call bells a particular issue.

The Patients Association has already received more calls this year than it did during the whole of 2010. A report published alongside the campaign launch highlighted 16 of the worst patient experiences cataloguing a string of incidents of poor patient care.

However, many of the stories also highlighted positive nursing care and the difference in cultures between wards in a hospital, or the positive influence of a different ward sister coming on shift.

Ms Bower told the Dignity Commission the CQC’s inspections had found ward leadership to be critical in making the difference between good or poor care.

She had been struck by a comment of a midwife from Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals, which was heavily criticised by the CQC, who claimed she didn’t know the appalling care being given to some mothers was wrong until she went to another hospital and saw how it was done differently.

Asked by NHS Confederation chief executive Keith Pearson whether doctors and nurses “get it” that the NHS is in the business of providing personal care as well as technical procedures, Ms Bower said the issue seemed to be “part of what’s gone wrong”. However, she said the CQC’s dignity and nutrition inspections were “prompting [staff] to think again”.

Ms Bower said Worcester Acute Hospitals Trust, where doctors were prescribing water to make sure patients got fluid intake, had changed “radically” as a result of the inspection.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Staff need rights too.

    Who the hell do Keith Pearson and ms Bower think they are?

    It is not about staff attitudes at all! If some staff are not 100%, perhaps that can be attributed to the fact that they are exhausted, on their knees and cannot do the job they want to do because of time/staff/organisational pressures!!!!

    STOP BLAMING THE STAFF you fools, and start working WITH us to improve patient care!!!!

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  • I would say to Cynthia Bower and her usual Nurse bashing rubbish, just remember exactly what we DO manage to do for our patients, under insane staffing and working conditions, under immense pressure and stress, often at the expense of our own health/family/sanity.

    Watch this video on Youtube, put in
    A World Without Nurses Ausmed Education.

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  • Time for Cynthia Bower to go.

    Culture and staff ttitudes are certainly an issue but whilst individuals are accountable for these, so are the many employers who fail to provide the resources and develop the culture in which concerns can be raised and are addressed.

    And time for Andrew Lansley to deliver on his pre election promises about improving whistleblowing legislation. Otherwise things will get even worse

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  • George Kuchanny

    Agreed Roger K, 'whistleblowing' an ugly term for sure, is actually a duty of care. If we see somebody not doing their job and this directly causes failures in care we should flag it and be THANKED for doing so. So when did any nurse get thanked? My guess is never. Much the reverse is the rule. Please comment if you have been thanked for doing your duty.As for this bit "Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals, which was heavily criticised by the CQC, who claimed she didn’t know the appalling care being given to some mothers was wrong until she went to another hospital and saw how it was done differently." - it cerainly struck a chord with me. I may have commented some time ago on the very poor culture in BHRT as long ago as 2000. Now that it is BHRUT clearly nothing has changed despite a huge sum spent on a brand new hospital the culture of indifference toward patients still continues.

    Please be aware that this was no means a simple nursing issue in 2000. It was as much or more to do with the number of incompetent doctors and managers who infested Oldchurch hospital at that time. By incompetent I really do mean incompetent.

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  • George Kuchanny

    Apologies - too busy to type properly! I meant to say
    "Please be aware that this was by no means a simple nursing issue in 2000." in my previous comment

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  • George

    Well put. And I agree with your central point that whistlblowing is one aspect of the duty of care all staff owe to patients, service users, and colleagues. Intelligent organisations welcome whistleblowing because it improves patient care.

    But such organisations are a rare beast in the NHS

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