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Respiratory nurse blog: Why we should welcome metrics

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Respiratory nurse and Janelle Yorke on metrics and nursing under the microscope

I have been reading with great interest, information relating to the metrics for nursing. On the whole it seems like a good thing. Measuring what nurses do may very well provide a tool to improve quality of care. But, part of me can’t help thinking: why is it only nurses and nursing care being put under the magnifying glass?

The aim of the metrics for nursing is to measure quality as well as quantity of care. However, measuring the human quality of compassion is, as stated by Peter Griffiths, ‘hugely challenging’. The more tangible outcomes include such things as falls reduction, good handwashing, hospital acquired infection, pressure ulcers, and even pain reduction. These are very worthy outcomes and have clear relevance to nursing. Though a grievance of mine is that, unlike pain, breathlessness rarely gets a look in. As we know breathlessness is a difficult symptom to assess and manage – but the same thing was said about pain 20 years ago. Research shows that breathlessness is reported as often as pain in acutely ill patients so it should be paid more attention.

Anyway, back to metrics for nursing; aren’t these outcomes relevant to everybody working in the NHS? We all have a duty of care that includes, for example, washing our hands. This is one outcome that is relevant to all, not to mention being compassionate to patients and their relatives. Perhaps, for example, specialist medical teams and physiotherapy teams should also be included in the collection of such outcomes. Surely this would give a much better overview of the patients’ journey?

Having said that, there has been much success with nursing metrics in the North West – a 26% reduction in falls since the metrics were introduced is a brilliant result. This is good for both staff morale and ultimately patient care.

We should welcome the introduction of metrics for nursing as an avenue for improving patient care and highlighting the positive impact nursing can on the patient journey. However, I wait in anticipation, for the scheme to be rolled out to other members of the multi-professional team.

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