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Stand up and challenge 'cuts', Ann Keen tells nurses


Health minister Ann Keen has told nursing directors and heads of midwifery to speak up if quality and safety of services are being compromised to save money.

Speaking at a Nightingale breakfast meeting at King’s College London last week, she said there had been “no message to do any cut to a service, and in particular to maternity”.

Her comments came in response to a question from Jill Demilew, a consultant midwife at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who described being under pressure to make cost savings of 10 per cent despite a 36 per cent increase in the birth rate since 2002.

Ms Keen highlighted the £330m the government had allocated to primary care trusts for maternity services in 2008-11.

She said: “It’s up to your heads of midwifery within each PCT area to ask where that money is.”

Nurses and midwives should challenge decisions they feel compromise patient care.

“You are just going to have to stand up and say you are not going to accept this in this way, that there is another way.”


Readers' comments (4)

  • Isn't that her job?

    We all KNOW corners are being cut left right and centre to save money. Perhaps not hiring enough staff in the first place is one of the biggest culprits. Yet nothing is being done.

    Ann Keen cannot be a stupid woman, she must KNOW all this as we who work on the wards do. It's about time she started getting off her backside and kicking doors down in Westminster to make the problems heard.

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  • Like most senior managers and organisations unless figures, quoters and recomendations for staff patient ratios are in place they find it difficult to act upon staff who raise any concerns about staffing levels verses quality of care. Although some of the audit tools in place measure quality in delivery of specific tasks like hygene, it is not measuring a holistic care delivery system which is more than one component of care. The nursing bodies who represent us should maybe invest in such a study in order to provide evidence of safe staffing levels.Indeed an article in the RCN bulletin talks about one nurse on night duty and comments how unsafe this is in view of Mid Staffordshire findings. Is this happening in your trust I ask and what do the managers feel about it?
    Safe, quality care provision has to equal a numerical value these days to justify its worth unfortunately, and without this safety of our patients may be at risk.
    I have had similar conversations with my senoir manager and been met with platitudes of management speak using value for money and data collection tools which do not measure quality care it only isolates the quantity of treated patients, or the quality of a specific task. Nursing cannot be managed in a pure data set of numbers without a holistic approach if quality matters can it?

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  • Anonymous, I'm sorry there is already a lot of evidence showing that current staffing levels are unsafe. The facts and figures are there and plain to see. More research would be better yes, but is not needed. The current evidence is already being ignored by managers and the government.

    I don't think anything will ever change until people start to sue them for dereliction of duty.

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  • Anne that is your job.
    Also your job...not inventing obstacles to that, listening to what we are telling you with regard to patient safety and quality of care and having the courage and integrity to investigate it.
    Will you wait for another Mid Staffs to emerge into the light of day before you are prompted to action?

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