Nightingale wards are much better than “hotel-style” hospital environments that can leave patients feeling isolated, a senior nurse has told the public enquiry into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
Yvonne Sawbridge, director of quality and nursing at South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust, which commissioned services from the hospital trust, said the “environment of care is not easy anymore”.
She said: “We’ve developed hospitals along hotel-style environments and that means patients are often feeling isolated and unable to see where the nursing workforce are, and the nurses cannot prioritise the buzzers, because they can’t see the person.
“On a Nightingale ward, if four buzzers are going, you can look down the ward and see where to direct your attention first. The other patients can see you’re there and working for them, and it manages their anxiety,” she told the inquiry.
“I think when people are genuinely ill, they worry more about that than whether or not they have a two-bedded bay with a nice toilet facility,” she added.
Ms Sawbridge spent almost a day and a half giving evidence to the inquiry, which is examining why regulators and other relevant organisations failed to pick up on the issues at the trust sooner.
The inquiry has previously heard evidence from patients and their relatives of poor standards of nursing care, including buzzers being ignored and patients being left without water, or to lie in wet beds.
Ms Sawbridge defended the profession against criticisms that nurses had “lost their way”, because they were university educated and saw basic care as beneath them.
She said: “Compassion and intellect are not mutually exclusive… I’ve sat with patients in pain, distressed and vomiting and had to wait for a doctor to come and sign for a prescription. Now, with non-medical prescribing, I can do both – and I can mop up the vomit and care for the distressed person.”
“But to do that you have to have an analytical ability to be safe… modern healthcare is too complex for its registered nursing workforce not to be educated at that [degree] level.”
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