The name of the nurse responsible for a patient’s care should be written above their bed, health secretary said last week in a speech on the “silent scandal of patient safety”.
Speaking at University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust, Jeremy Hunt called for a “new culture of openness, transparency and accountability” in the health service.
“However superb the team, the buck always needs to stop with someone and the patient has every right to know who that person is,” he said. “We should return to having the name of the responsible consultant and responsible nurse written above every patient’s bed.”
Mr Hunt praised UCLH and King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust for having already agreed to introduce the measure, adding that a seminar was also scheduled to take place with the professions, regulators and employers to discuss “how best this can be taken forward in the NHS”.
He made strong references in the speech to the scandals at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust.
“We must ask ourselves whether we have become so numbed to the inevitability of patient harm that we accept the unacceptable,” he said. “It is time for a major rethink.”
As well as clinician names above beds, Mr Hunt called for greater efforts to reduce the number of “never events”, better ways of measuring patient safety on wards and the need for a “big focus” from trusts on engaging staff on safety issues.
Responding to Mr Hunt, Royal College of Nursing general secretary and chief executive Peter Carter said: “The concept of a ‘responsible nurse’ for each patient recognises that nurses are at the centre of patient care, and a move towards a more patient-focused approach is to be welcomed.
“However, every care setting is different and for this to work effectively this must be something which is carefully implemented, and supported by the right staffing levels.”
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