The publication of the first 12 reports from an inspection programme of hospitals by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has once again highlighted how much work the profession still has to do to ensure consistent standards of essential care.
Unlike some of the recent television exposés, where some nurses have argued that scenarios were taken out of context to suit the programmes’ ambitions, this series of unannounced visits involved a practising nurse, experts by experience - who are carers of older patients or older people who have been patients - as well as CQC inspectors. It would be churlish to suggest they do not have the expertise to make these judgements.
In three of the 12 hospitals inspected, fundamental mistakes were made in frontline care as staff failed to keep patients informed, hydrated, nourished and maybe worst of all - respected.
Assessing hydration and nutrition forms part of the high impact actions, and is an essential aspect of care. Any nurses who don’t understand its importance, and need to be told by a doctor’s prescription to administer water - as was the case in one of the hospitals - should reconsider their career. Next week we’ll be looking at some of the clinical issues raised by these reports.
What’s infuriating about these findings is that once again the excellent care being offered in the hospitals concerned is overshadowed by inexcusable tales of neglect.
The timing of these reports - published when nursing is trying to ensure it will be taken seriously in the new-look NHS - is not ideal. But the profession must not ignore this further wake-up call to identify poor practice and do all they can to eradicate it.
However, while nursing must address its shortcomings, it must not fail to celebrate the superb initiatives and care that prevails across most of the profession.
The Nursing Times Awards are open for entry, and there has never been a better time to show that nursing is a compassionate, credible and conscientious profession. The deadline for entries is July 1. See www.ntawards.co.uk.