Fitness to practise investigations have been launched into nurses suspected of providing poor care during the Care Quality Commission’s recent dignity and nutrition inspections.
CQC inspection teams, including nurses, visited 200 wards where older people were cared for at 100 hospitals. The regulator found 20 hospitals were not compliant with one or both of the CQC’s “essential” standards on dignity and nutrition.
A final report on the inspections, published this week, identified common failings as ignored call bells, staff speaking to patients in a dismissive or condescending way, and patients going hungry because they were not helped to eat.
In a statement responding to the report, Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes said: “We have opened fitness to practise investigations into a number of individuals whose practise may have fallen below the standards expected under their code.”
An NMC spokeswoman would not confirm how many nurses were being investigated by the regulator.
In particular, the CQC spot checks highlighted major concerns at James Paget University Hospitals Foundation Trust in Norfolk, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust.
Worcestershire has since been found to be compliant with the CQC standards in a follow up inspection, but James Paget was issued with a warning notice after a return visit found care was still not meeting the required standards. Sandwell General Hospital has closed the ward where inspectors raised serious concerns about patient dignity.
CQC chair Dame Jo Williams said although inspectors often found big variations between different wards in the same trust, it was clear leadership in some places had allowed unacceptable care to become the “norm”.
Dame Jo said she recognised resources could play a part in the quality of care provided and urged management to make sure budgets were used “wisely”. But said the training of nurses should also be looked at to examine why care was “broken down into tasks to be completed – focusing on the unit of work, rather than the person who needs to be looked after”.
She added: “Care professionals need to strike the right balance between ensuring that people get the care they need in a safe way – recording how much they have eaten and drunk, what medications they have taken and when – while not prioritising processes over people.”