The first hospital with all single rooms will require a “dramatic” change in the way that nurses work, experts have said.
The Pembury Hospital in Kent, which is part of the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust, is due to open its women’s and children’s services and some support services a week today, with the remaining services opening in September.
The hospital has 10 wards with 512 rooms, all of which have ensuite facilities. It was built under a private finance initiative for around £230m.
The National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London is researching how the new single-roomed hospital will change the way nurses will have to work.
Unit deputy director Jill Maben told Nursing Times the hospital’s business plan was based on the idea nurses would need to be at the bedside more often.
“It requires nurses to think and work differently - they will go into rooms more often to check patients,” she said.
Ms Maben said the change from the traditional Nightingale-type wards was “dramatic” and nurses’ main concern was visibility of patients.
However, windows have been designed into the space so patients’ bedheads can be seen, which will aid patient visibility.
The trust’s director of nursing, Flo Panel-Coates, said the nursing workforce “was excited”.
“We have invested in our healthcare support staff - there will be more people around to observe people,” she said.
The design of the ward, with a central hub for the nurse’s station surrounded by rooms on the outside edge of the ward, will result in less walking. “To get to [equipment and drugs] will be a lot easier for our staff,” she said.
Peter West, a health economist at the York Health Economics Consortium, studied the Bevan Ward at Hillingdon Hospital, which consists of 24 single rooms.
He said: “My personal view is that I still see a place for a few beds close to the nursing station where they are more or less under observation all the time.”
However, he added that patients preferred the rooms and the benefits “outweigh the other side of the coin”.