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Patients report little change in NHS service quality

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The NHS has failed to improve its performance on areas such as dignity and respect, according to findings from the latest survey of inpatients.

The 2010 Care Quality Commission survey reveals most trusts have not made significant improvements since last year in key areas relating to nursing. However, the findings also suggest patients have yet to observe a significant reduction in service quality due to financial pressures.

Scores on chatting in front of patients, hand-washing, answering questions and whether there were enough nurses on duty, got worse in 10 trusts or stayed the same in the majority of organisations. Only six trusts had done better than in 2009.

More than 66,000 patients discharged between June and August 2010 from 161 acute and specialist trusts took part in the annual survey.

The vast majority of patients – 92% – rated their overall care from “good” to “excellent” and the poll shows improvements in areas such as mixed-sex accommodation and the cleanliness of wards and bathrooms.

However, patients continued to report lapses in nursing care, with little or no change in many areas.

Three per cent of patients said they were not treated with dignity and respect while in hospital while 18% said they were treated with dignity and respect “sometimes” but not always – the same picture as in 2002.

The percentage of patients who said they “always” got enough help with meals had gone up slightly to 64% but 18% said that only happened “sometimes” and 18% said they did not get enough help.

Five per cent said nurses “always” talked in front of them as if they were not there and 17% said that sometimes happened.

Ten per cent said there were “rarely or never” enough nurses on duty, 30% sometimes, and 60% said always or nearly always.

Ealing Hospital Trust’s score for overall patient care had got worse alongside performance on all five questions about nurses, putting it in the 20% worst performing trusts in those five areas.

New nursing director Julie Halliday told Nursing Times the trust was determined to improve helped by a new system of regular, targeted ward rounds by nurses.

“In addition to reducing harm to patients it will increase patient/staff contact,” she said.

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