Ensuring patient privacy is an ongoing challenge, but my trust has implemented an effective and cost-effective solution to the problem.
I work at the Day Surgery Unit at Southend University Hospital NHS Trust. Day surgery ward staff here have always been sensitive to the need for patient privacy, particularly as patients are often cared for in mixed sex bays.
Recently, pressure to increase throughput has resulted in higher patient numbers, with a corresponding increase in healthcare professionals involved in their care. With intensified pressure to meet targets, it would be all too easy to lose sight of patients as individuals.
Having attended a fostering dignity and respect course, I was keen to make changes that would improve patient's privacy and protect their dignity. This lead to the introduction of 'privacy pegs', a simple moulded plastic design, approved by the infection control team, which is used to clip together the edges of two curtains surrounding a bed space.
Attaching these pegs to the curtains around beds and trolleys has multiple benefits. When the curtains are closed with a peg, this provides the patient with both privacy and the security that staff will not be able to inadvertently open the curtains.
It is also a visual reminder to all staff that permission should be obtained prior to entering a patient?s personal space.
Following successful implementation on the Day Surgery Unit, the pegs have now been purchased by the trust for a minimal cost of £96, which has provided enough pegs to be used throughout the entire hospital.
This initiative has been recognised by receiving the trust?s chairman?s Quality Improvement Award 2006, and was also selected as a poster presentation at the 2006 British Association of Day Surgery national conference.
In summary, the introduction of this very simple yet effective idea has been embraced by the trust?s staff and, although yet to be audited, has the potential for making significant improvements to the quality of individual patient care.
Deputy Ward Manager
Day Surgery UniSouthendUniversityHospital NHS Foundation Trust
Essex SS0 0RY