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Found 44 results
  1. News Article
    Registered nurses at Queen of the Valley Medical Center (QVMC) in Napa, Calif, USA, will hold an informational picket followed by a vote to authorise a strike in an effort to raise patient care standards and win a fair contract, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, (CNA/NNU) has announced. Nurses at QVMC will picket to highlight cutbacks and eroding patient care. Among the nurses’ top concerns is safe patient care, including safe staffing and dedicated staff for safe patient handling. “After eight months of negotiations, it's time for Queen of the Valley nurses to bring our concerns to our community and let them know nurses are fighting to give them the best patient care,” said MaryLou Bahn, registered nurse in labour and delivery at QVMC and member of the bargaining team. “We’re fighting for adequate staffing levels because we refuse to put profits over the needs of our patients.” Read full story Source: National Nurses United, 20 February 2020
  2. Content Article
    Sometimes, you have those days where you have had enough. ENOUGH. That’s really where the Genie started. I began my career in the private sector, joining the NHS as an ‘experienced hire’ some five years later through ‘Gateway to Leadership – Cohort III’. I probably should have known that a moniker based on the Roman army was telling me something. I had moved from an organisation where the worst thing that had happened was moving the water machine, to an organisation where the water machines had been removed some years before for "cost improvement" purposes. The organisation was struggling to cope on a number of levels, and there was no single answer to solve any of the issues. Sticking plasters were used to cover gaping holes, and we had significant clinical and financial issues. Please don’t misunderstand. I had a baptism of fire, with many incidents I wouldn’t want to put into print, but my wholehearted support of the healthcare workforce, of their resilience and humour, their ability to innovate, and their willingness to stand up and fight, was sown in those first few weeks as a fresh-faced newbie with a desire to change the world. I was approached to join another organisation in those heady days of ‘turnaround’ which gradually became ‘transformation’, as realisation dawned that death by a thousand cuts wasn’t actually saving any money, was impacting on care quality, and maybe (just maybe) we needed a different approach. I was often asked to work with the nursing and midwifery teams based on experiences in my first NHS trust. The issues were often the same. Finance and HR had data – not necessarily matching data – and nursing and midwifery had ‘professional judgement’. Somehow that didn’t hold as much weight, so working together with nursing from ward to board, we would produce our own data based on care levels, costs and WTE, so we could come to the table to ask some really simple questions: “Would you want to be cared for on this unit based on the care that is available?” It made a huge difference, and started to change the conversation from one of conflict and protectionism to one of collaboration. After seven years of working through the same issues in each organisation it reached that point again. Surely there must be a better way? What would happen if we could extend our single organisation work to one that could look at variation between organisations, and include outcome measures, and look at workforce planning across all settings of care? So, with an idea in our minds and a plan to do good, Creative Lighthouse Ltd was formed. Establishment Genie was born in a shed and has been both kicked and nurtured by some wonderful critical friends and safe staffing experts. The hard work, bloodied knuckles from knocking on so many doors, and the highs and lows of running a tech start-up in a sector that often doesn’t embrace technology started to pay off. The Genie achieved NICE endorsement in April 2017 and was awarded a grant by Innovate UK to develop and test the Genie across all settings of care. We have now worked with front-line staff from more than 500 teams and organisations to review, remodel and report on their workforce, supporting them to meet the challenges of safe and affordable care with a backdrop of clinical and financial shortages, and track their progress using outcome measures to show that they are improving quality of care. However, the journey doesn’t stop there. Dear reader, to paraphrase poorly, I have a dream. I have a dream that one day every health and social care organisation will put workforce at the centre of all their planning processes. A dream that all health and social care organisations will use the same approach to plan their workforce and share outcomes and data for the benefit of all, and the future of health and social care. A dream that our frontline health and social care leaders will work beyond professional and organisational boundaries to ensure that every person has the best and most appropriate care, provided in the most appropriate place, with the safety of every individual at the core of every action and intervention. Thankfully I love to travel and cannot wait to meet more innovative disruptors who share that same dream. Jump onboard – it’s going to be one heck of a ride! Read on the hub case studies showing how trusts are developing their approach to workforce planning.
  3. Content Article
    So, what does it feel like working in chronically depleted staffing levels? "We are down three nurses today" – this is what I usually hear when I turn up for a shift. It has become the norm. We work below our template, usually daily, so much so that when we are fully staffed, we are expected to work on other wards that are ‘three nurses down’. Not an uncommon occurrence to hear at handover on a busy 50-bedded medical ward. No one seems to bat an eyelid; you may see people sink into their seat, roll their eyes or sigh, but this is work as usual. ‘Three nurses down’ has been the norm for months here, staff here have adapted to taking up the slack. Instead of taking a bay of six patients, the side rooms are added on making the ratio 1:9 or sometimes 1:10, especially at night. This splitting up the workload has become common practice on many wards. "That was a good shift" – no one died when they were not supposed to, I gave the medications, I documented care that we gave, I filled out all the paperwork that I am supposed to, I completed the safety checklists. Sounds a good shift? Thinking of Erik Hollnagel’s ‘work as done, work as imagined’ (Wears, Hollnagel & Braithwaite, 2015) – this shift on paper looks as if it was a ‘good shift’ but in fact: Medications were given late; some were not given at all as the pharmacy order went out late because we had a patient that fell. Care that was given was documented – most of the personal care is undertaken by the healthcare assistants (HCA) now and verbally handed over during the day – bowel movements, mobility, hygiene, mouth care, nutrition and hydration. As a nurse, I should be involved in these important aspects of my patients’ care, but I am on the phone sorting out Bed 3’s discharge home, calling the bank office to cover sickness, attending to a complaint by a relative. It’s being attended to by the HCA – so it's sorted? I have documented, probably over documented which has made me late home. I’m fearful of being reprimanded for the fall my patient had earlier on. This will be investigated and they will find out using my documentation what happened. The safety checklists have been completed for all my patients; comfort rounds, mouth care, falls proforma, bed rails assessment, nutritional score, cannular care plan, catheter care plan, delirium score, swallow test, capacity test, pre op assessments, pre op checklists, safe ward round checklist, NEWS charting, fluid balance charting and stool charting… the list is endless. Management have made things easier with the checklist ‘if it’s not written down it didn’t happen’ so now we can ‘tick’ against the check list rather than writing copious notes. However, I cut corners to enable me to complete all my tasks, some ticks are just ‘ticks’ when no work has been completed. No one would know this shift would they? What looks as if it has been a ‘good shift’ for the nurse, has often been the opposite for the patients and their family. There is a large body of research showing that low nurse staffing levels are associated with a range of adverse outcomes, notably mortality (Griffiths et al, 2018; Recio-Saucedo et al, 2018). What is the safest level of staff to care for patients? Safe staffing levels have been a long-standing mission of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)/Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in recent years. In the UK at present, nurse staffing levels are set locally by individual health providers. The Department of Health and professional organisations such as the RCN have recommended staffing levels for some care settings but there is currently no compliance regime or compulsion for providers to follow these when planning services (Royal College of Nursing 2019). I was surprised to find that there are no current guidelines on safe staffing within our healthcare system. It left me wondering… is patient safety a priority within our healthcare system? It seems not. While the debate and fight continues for safe staffing levels, healthcare staff continue to nurse patients without knowing what is and isn’t safe. Not only are the patients at risk and the quality of care given, but the registration of that nurse is also at risk. What impact does low staffing have on patients and families? ‘What matters to them’ does not get addressed. I shall never forget the time a relative asked me to get a fresh sheet for their elderly mother as there was a small spillage of soup on it. I said yes, but soon forgot. In the throes of medication and ward rounds, being called to the phone for various reasons, answering call buzzers, writing my documentation, making sure Doris doesn't climb out of bed again, escorting patients to and from the CT scanner, transferring patients to other wards – I forgot. My elderly patients’ daughter was annoyed, I remember she kept asking and I kept saying "in a minute", this made matters worse. She got annoyed, so that I ended up avoiding her altogether. How long does it take to give her the sheet? Five minutes tops, so why not get the sheet? MY priority was the tasks for the whole ward, tasks that are measured and audited on how well the ward performs by the Trust; filling out the observations correctly, adhering to the escalation policy, completing the 20 page safety booklet, completing the admission paperwork, ensuring everyone had their medication on time, making sure no one fell – changing a sheet with a small spot of soup on it was not on my priority list. It was a priority for my patients’ family. My patient was elderly, frail and probably wouldn’t get out of hospital alive this time. Her daughter was the only family she had left. It’s no wonder families feel that they are not listened to, are invisible, are getting in the way and not valued. These feelings do not encourage a healthy relationship between patients/families and healthcare workers. Studies have shown that involving patients and families in care is vital to ensure patient safety. Patients and their relatives have the greatest knowledge of patients and can often pick up subtle signs physiological deterioration before this is identified by staff or monitoring systems (O’dell et al, 2011). If our relationship is strained, how can we, as nurses, advocate for the safety of our patients? So, what impact does low staffing have on the staff member? "Fully staffed today!" The mood lifts at handover. People are sat up, smiling, quiet excitable chatter is heard. This uplifting sentence is quickly followed by either: "Let’s keep this quiet" or "someone will be moved" or "someone will have to move to XX ward as they are down three nurses". Morale is higher when wards are fully staffed. The mood is different. There are people to help with patient care, staff can take their breaks at reasonable times, staff may be able to get home on time and there is emotional support given by staff to other staff – a camaraderie. The feeling does not last long. Another department is ‘three nurses down’. Someone must move to cover the shortfall. No one wants to go When you get moved, you often get given the ‘heavy’ or ‘confused’ patients. Not only that, you are working with a different team with different dynamics – you are an outsider. This makes speaking up difficult, asking for help difficult, everything is difficult: the ward layout, where equipment is stored, where to find documentation, drugs are laid out differently in the cupboard, the clinical room layout is not the same. The risk of you getting something wrong has increased; this is a human factors nightmare, the perfect storm. I am in fear of losing my PIN (NMC registration) at times. At some point I am going to make a mistake. I can’t do the job I have been trained to do safely. The processes that have been designed to keep me and my patients safe are not robust. If anything, it is to protect the safety and reputation of the Trust, that’s what it feels like. Being fully staffed is a rarity. Being moved to a different department happens, on some wards more than others. Staff dread coming to work for threat of being moved into a different specialty. Just because you trained to work on a respiratory, doesn’t mean you can now work on a gynae ward. We are not robots you can move from one place to another. I can see that moving staff is the best option to ensure efficiency; but at what cost? Another problem in being chronically short staffed is that it becomes the norm. We have been ‘coping’ with three nurses down for so long, that ‘management’ look at our template. Is the template correct, we could save money here? If we had written guidance on safe staffing levels, we still have the problem of recruitment and retention of staff; there are not enough of us to go around. Thoughts please... Does this resonate with you? Has anyone felt that they feel ‘unsafe’ giving care? What power do we have as a group to address this issue of safe staffing levels? References 1. Wears RL, Hollnagel E, Braithwaite J, eds. The Resilience of Everyday Clinical Work. 2015. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. 2. Griffiths P et al. The association between nurse staffing and omissions in nursing care: a systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2018: 74 (7): 1474-1487. 3. Recio-Saucedo A et al. What impact does nursing care left undone have on patient outcomes? Review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Nursing 2018; 27(11-12): 2248-2259. 4. O’dell M et al. Call 4 Concern: patient and relative activated critical care outreach. British Journal of Nursing 2001; 19 (22): 1390-1395.
  4. Content Article

    Why I ‘walk on by’

    Anonymous
    Walking by is not what I want to do but walking by is what I do on a regular basis. I am ashamed to write this, to think this, to do this. I don’t think I am alone as I have seen others do it too. We are not bad people, but I can’t help but think that we have turned into bad nurses. The last thing I wanted to be was a bad nurse. This was never the plan… it’s crept in, without me knowing it was happening. Until now. How has this happened? How have I become the nurse I despise? I work on an acute medical admissions unit. We have patients that are admitted from the emergency department (ED). They are unwell, often too unwell to come to us, but patients need to be moved. “Keep ED flowing” – its all about flow. I have begun to hate that word. We have 36 beds in total. We have a nurse/patient ratio of 1:6. Sometimes 1:8 if we are short staffed. Throughout the day we can have up to 12 patients that have passed through those six beds. They go to other medical wards, respiratory wards… anywhere that has space. If we have no room the ED gets backed up and ‘flow’ stops. I have pressure from my nurse in charge to move my patient to another ward, they have pressure from the bed manager, who has pressure from the ops manager. I have sat in on bed meetings, it’s not easy listening. A high up manager barking “we need 45 discharges by mid-day”; it’s not achievable… it goes on every day. I’m getting these patients ready for transfer. Safety booklets, pages long to be completed: nutritional score, waterlow score, bowel chart, touch the toes chart, fluid chart, turns chart, fall proforma, NEWS charting, food chart, clinical pathways, next of kin contact details, let alone my documentation for those few hours they have sat in that bed. All the while, drugs need to be given, intravenous drugs, not just for my patient but I have to help the agency nurse in the next bay as “she can’t do IVs”. Patients need washing, turning, feeding, monitoring, bloods to be taken, wounds to be dressed, hourly pump checks, blood sugar testing, cannulation and conversations with sick patients’ relatives. These are tasks that need to be done on time. If not – trust policy is breached. Some, I just ‘tick’, especially if it’s a checklist. I know I’m not the only one that does this – it’s normal. So, when I’m in the middle of trying to complete these ever-growing tasks, I hear “nurse can you…” “nurse will you just…” “I know you're busy but...” What do I do? I walk on by. I walk at high speed. I have stopped before. It often stops me completing my tasks. I forget what I was meant to be doing. I have missed a crucial blood sugar check for my DKA patient in the past. Patients do not get their medication on time, patients are not transferred on time (it’s all about the flow), safety booklets not completed, handovers rushed and information missed, documentation scant. I’m always in a rush. I know many of the calls are for toileting. This can take a while. I daren’t look at the pressure areas – my heart sinks if there is one… more documentation, more time away from the other tasks. Patients who come in are often at risk of falling, so need two people to help. I know the next-door nurse is just as busy; I feel bad to ask her/him. The healthcare assistant is often too busy to help, getting patients ready for transfer, doing the observations… relentless. Walk on by. Yes, I do. I am not the only one. What are the Trust priorities? Safe care or flow? The Trust will always say safe care. So why set up the environment that causes unsafe care? Mixed messages. I became a nurse to give evidence-based, holistic, safe care. I go home demoralised. I don’t recognise this profession anymore.
  5. Content Article
    In this series of case studies, CQC highlight what providers have done to take a flexible approach to staffing. The case studies show different ways of organising services. They focus on the quality of care, patient safety, and efficiency, rather than just numbers and ratios of staff. They illustrate how providers have redesigned services to make the best use of the available range of skills and discipline or they found new ways to work with others in the local health and care system. Safe, effective staffing is about having enough people with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time. It's about team work, not silo working. It's about developing staff to support each other in new roles - making sure patients follow the smoothest possible journey on their care pathway.
  6. Community Post
    I am interested in what colleagues here think about the proposed patient safety specialist role? https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/introducing-patient-safety-specialists/ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-patient-safety-hospitals-mistakes-harm-a9259486.html Can this development make a difference? Or will it lead to safety becoming one person's responsibility and / or more of the same as these responsibilities will be added to list of duties of already busy staff? Can these specialist be a driver for culture change including embedding a just culture and a focus on safety-II and human factors? What support do trusts and specialists need for this to happen? Some interesting thoughts on this here: https://twitter.com/TerryFairbanks/status/1210357924104736768
  7. Content Article
    Case study examples The following case studies show how trusts have been using the tool. Roles and responsibilities of staff have been reviewed and new workforce plans have been co-designed with staff at the frontline to deliver new ways of working that put the patient at the centre of care – whatever the setting. The Hillingdon Hospitals - Safety Supervision and Savings.pdfThe Hillingdon Hospitals - Ward Reconfiguration for Safety.pdf GIG Cymru NHS Wales - Residential Nursing homes Case Study.pdfChelsea and Westminister Hospital Case Study - Empowering Staff.pdf GIG Cymru NHS Wales - District Nursing Principles Case Study (1).pdfBerkshire Health Community Nursing Case Study.pdf Organisational benefits Integrated care levels, costs and common language enables clinical and corporate leads to collaborate and meet the requirements of a next-generation health and social care workforce: Precise staffing profiles and options appraisal support CIP development and budgeting. Gap analysis compared to budget and standards for exact hours and WTE requirement for each band. Uplift for leave is specific to each role and expected joiners, avoiding blanket uplifts that may not fit the needs of the unit. Governance and control underpinned by agreed, costed roster templates, with ready reckoners to keep within range. Improved recruitment and retention with evidence of staffing levels and support. Outcomes track quality, with benchmarking to assure. Clinical benefits Professional judgement in workforce planning is supported by this NICE-endorsed tool: Planning care levels and WTE for expansion, efficiency, reconfiguration and new service models. Evaluating alternative shift models to reorganise, invest or save. Modelling skill-mix and impact of new roles. Understanding and validating variation. Challenging peaks and troughs in cover to improve safety, release capacity and release cost savings. Benchmarking and triangulation of patient care levels, with outcomes for correlation. Mapping other staff group input across each setting. Background on 'Establishment Genie' Creative Lighthouse was founded in response to frustration at the focus on financially led decisions in health and social care management that did not consider the safety and care of patients or staff. We set out to build a platform that would allow all management groups in the healthcare sector to collaborate on safe staffing and financial governance. Creative Lighthouse self-funded the development of a unique workforce-planning tool under the brand name ’Establishment Genie’, endorsed by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2017. In April 2017, the Creative Lighthouse team were awarded a grant from Innovate UK to continue to develop the tool to include all settings of care in the knowledge that patient safety and workforce planning is not only the responsibility of acute services, but of all providers and commissioners of care. This is a critical aspect of enabling the improvement of quality and patient outcomes in a cost effective way, whilst providing data driven analytics to support professional judgment. About the author I am a healthcare professional with over 15 years’ experience working in and consulting to public and private health and social care organisations. I have worked with a variety of health and care sector clients in the delivery of complex change, from transformational change and organisational design process to programme leadership and execution. I am passionate about the safe staffing agenda, recognising that in order for any organisation to ensure appropriate care and evidence for professional judgement, there must be consistency in approach and a way of linking staffing levels to quality outcomes that can then be benchmarked within and across organisations. This passion resulted in the birth of ‘Establishment Genie’.
  8. News Article
    Hospitals are having to redeploy nurses from wards to look after queues of patients in corridors, in a growing trend that has raised concerns about patient safety. Many hospitals have become so overcrowded that they are being forced to tell nurses to spend part of their shift working as “corridor nurses” to look after patients who are waiting for a bed. The disclosure of the rise in corridor nurses comes days after the NHS in England posted its worst-ever performance figures against the four-hour target for A&E care. They showed that last month almost 100,000 patients waited at least four hours and sometimes up to 12 or more on a trolley while hospital staff found them a bed on the ward appropriate for their condition. “Corridor nursing is happening across the NHS in England and certainly in scores of hospitals. It’s very worrying to see this,” said Dave Smith, the Chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Emergency Care Association, which represents nurses in A&E units across the UK. "Having to provide care to patients in corridors and on trolleys in overcrowded emergency departments is not just undignified for patients, it’s also often unsafe.” A nurse in south-west England told the Guardian newspaper how nurses feared the redeployments were leaving specialist wards too short of staff, and patients without pain relief and other medication. Some wards were “dangerously understaffed” as a result, she claimed. She said: “Many nurses, including myself, dread going into work in case we’re pulled from our own patients to then care for a number of people in the queue, which is clearly unsafe. We’re being asked to choose between the safety of our patients on the wards and those in the queue." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 12 January 2020
  9. News Article
    Nurses in Northern Ireland have announced their plans for further strike action in the new year. Earlier this month, more than 15,000 nurses took to the picket lines over pay and staffing levels. It was the first time in the 103-year history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) that its members had taken such action. It has announced nurses will strike on 8 January and 10 January 2020, unless a resolution is reached. Read full story Source: BBC News, 24 December 2019
  10. Content Article
    Working in healthcare has never been so demanding. The demand outweighs capacity in most services. There is a constant need for patients to be ‘flowing’ through the system. So much so, that there is little capacity for deviation from pathways that we have set up for certain groups of patients to enable their care to be ‘safer’. Our staffing templates and bed occupancy has no wiggle room for the ebbs and flows within the system at different times. Winter pressures now span from mid-summer to late spring – it just feels like the status quo. Having a busy day used to be every now and again, it seems that busy days are just the norm now. It is relentless. The huge machine that is ‘the acute Trust’ keeps turning. If you slow up due to covering staff sickness, a swell in emergency department admissions, a swell in ‘failed discharges’ you will tumble around this machine and be spat out at the end of the day with a little less resilience to when you started. There are times when we get sent an email from Comms. "We are experiencing high volumes of admissions and a low number of discharges – this is an internal critical incident". I often read this email a week later. Staff who are doing the clinical work often have no access to a computer at work as the computer is used for looking at clinical results or used by the ward clerk. Plus, when will there be time? An email telling us to work harder and be more efficient by people in their Comms room is as helpful as an ashtray on a moped. At times, us frontline staff feel as if we are being told to ‘work harder, discharge more patients, be quicker, be more efficient and while you are fighting the fire... innovate and give safer care. Innovation is rife within the healthcare system. I see it on a daily basis. Small pockets of great people doing amazing things. How are these people implementing their innovative ideas in an environment where there is little room for a full lunch break? Good will. Often, these people have been driven to innovate in their area due to an unforeseen circumstance. They may have been involved in a safety incident, a never event, bullying or just wanting to make their job easier. Ideas often start small, then grow. What was a seemingly 'simple fix’ has now turned into a beast. A band 5 nurse may introduce a new way of working. They do this alongside their full-time clinical role, often in their own time. They stay late, they come in early, they send emails on their day off, they read up on the theory behind their initiative. Great ideas and solutions are made everyday in our healthcare system by dedicated, passionate people. It is in our nature to ‘fix’ something that is broken: bones, wounds, people… healthcare? Is this pressure cooker of a place producing the ‘right type’ of solution? Or are we just papering over the big issues such as bullying, poor leadership, pay and conditions, management of long-term conditions, staffing… the list goes on. It feels as if we are putting sticking plasters over gaping cracks; it may work for a while, for that ward, that department, that Trust – but it needs to be more robust than that. We can not rely on the goodwill of our front-line clinicians to come up with the solutions.
  11. Content Article
    We have all heard of the terrible stories of nurses going to the coroner’s court. These stories have been fed to us by our seniors, our mentors, our lecturers since we were students. "If you don’t document properly, you will end up in the coroner’s court, you might even get struck off!" These stories strike the fear of god into you. No one wants to go to coroner’s court, no one wants to be criticised for the work they have spent years training to do. No one wants to be publicly humiliated. This is my story of what happened when I attended a coroner's hearing on a patient who was in my care. I was a band 6 at the time. It was a usual day on the medical ward. Busy. I had a bay of six patients. Three of them were fit for discharge, but no community placement for them to go to, two medical patients and one who was a surgical patient. The surgical patient was under the medics and the surgeons. He came with abdominal pain; he was waiting for a surgical review. Many patients are under numerous teams on the medical ward. One of my roles is to ensure that they get seen by each team every day to ensure a plan for treatment. Today was no different. The patient was seen by the medical team who said "await surgeons". I chase up the surgeons, but they are in theatre. From experience I know that they will be out of theatre by late afternoon – so hopefully I can catch them then. In the meantime, the surgical patient becomes unwell. His blood pressure drops, his NEWS of 5 from 0. He is tachycardic. I call the medics who attend – they want me to call the surgeons… no answer. Intensive care team arrive – to this day I’m not sure how they knew to come, perhaps one of the medics called them? The intensive care doctors I hear raging down the phone at a poor surgeon who is in theatre. The surgeon comes to the ward and soon realises the gravity of the situation. There are discussion that are being had away from the bedside – I’m not sure what was being said or plans that were being made. I was not part of the process. I’m busy doing observations every 5 minutes as requested, plus trying to look after my other five patients. All of a sudden we are going to theatre. I’m still unsure what’s going on. What’s he going there for? The patient looks really scared. I bet I look scared too! I help wheel him down to the operating theatre. As soon as we arrive in the anaesthetic room he has a cardiac arrest. We try and resuscitate him to no avail. I went back to the ward; bewildered, sweating from doing chest compressions, confused and with tears in my eyes. I have a quick cup of tea and I’m back out on the ward again. Three months later my manager asks to see me in the office. ‘What have I done wrong?’ When anyone asks for you to come to the office, its usually bad. They ask if remember the surgical patient who arrested a few weeks back. Of course, I do. I had been thinking about it ever since. I had been worrying about it. I felt it was my fault. They tell me that the case is going to the coroner's court and I was to be called as a witness. I cry. That’s me done then. I’m going to be struck off. I’m going to be found out that I am a rubbish nurse. My manager was amazing. They had experience in these hearings. They explained the whole process. From what would happen from now until the end of the hearing. That afternoon I was contacted by the Trust investigation team. They were lovely too. They asked me exactly what happened and help me write a statement. They put me at ease. It was made clear that what happened was not my fault and that they want to find out what happened to prevent it happening again. The next week or so I had contact with the Trust legal team. I had never spoken to a legal team before in my life. I did feel as if I was a criminal at first. The legal team were also brilliant. They spoke through the actual process; who was in the room, the layout of the room, what questions I might be asked, what the outcomes often are. They gave me advice on how to answer questions; answer what you know as fact, not opinion. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Be honest. I had two further meetings with the legal team and the investigating team. This was to check I was ok, to make sure I was supported. For what could be an extremely stressful period of my career, was made so much easier by people taking the time out just to check I was ok. I carried on working throughout this period and working with confidence. The hearing came. I knew what to expect. I knew the layout of the room. I knew the patient’s relatives were in the front row, I knew I had to swear an oath, I knew I had support from my Trust. I was able to speak freely – even the bad bits; no covering up or making excuses for others. I was asked what happened that day. I was honest. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what was wrong with my patient. I was not used to caring for surgical patients. Admitting that I ‘didn’t know’ was awful. I should know, shouldn’t I? When I was saying this, I could feel the eyes of the patient's widow bore into me. I had let my patient down and I had failed. The coroner asked me many questions related to escalation of care to seniors, the policy, my adherence to the NEWS policy – to which I had followed. My part was over in a flash. The next was the surgeon, who got most of the grilling. Why was he not there, where was his documentation, why did he not come when asked repeatedly? It wasn’t his fault either. He was in theatre with another patient. He can’t be in two places at once. I felt really sorry for him. I hope he got the same support I did. The outcome of the hearing was to issue a regulation 28. This ensures that a report is sent to the government by the Trust as the coroner believes that action needs to be taken can to prevent future preventable deaths. So, what happened then? I went back to work and carried on as usual. The ward where I worked no longer takes surgical patients. They made a new unit called the ‘surgical assessment unit’ where surgical nurses care for this cohort of patients. I wanted to share this – yes, there are many issues surrounding this, but the point I wanted to get across is that the investigation team, my manager and the legal team supported me through this difficult time. I am not sure if other Trusts have this level of support for staff attending coroners court.
  12. Content Article
    Outstanding models of district nursing explores the elements that need to be in place to support an outstanding District Nursing service. It includes the views and experiences of a wide range of stakeholders including patients, carers, commissioners and GPs. It recommends that the Government and NHS: Urgently increase investment in the District Nursing service to give it the capacity and capability to meet the challenges of the 21st century Maintain the post-qualifying District Nurse Specialist Practice Qualification (DNSPQ), which develops DNs’ professional growth and enhances their clinical skills Develop a strategy to expand commissioners’, providers’ and the public’s understanding and knowledge of the District Nurse role, enabling them to recognise the added value they bring to the local health economy and particularly to the wider Health and Social Care system Develop a standardised data collection system and data set, collecting meaningful data that recognises value for money, promoting a strong economic case for investment in the District Nursing service Develop a standardised approach to the assessment of quality, to measure District Nurse effectiveness in England, providing reliable data, enabling innovation and cost-effective practice to be recognised and disseminated Explore the co-location of District Nursing teams within Primary Care Networks to provide personalised care, continuity of care and enhanced working relationships across primary and community care teams.
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