GPs should be subject to regular patient and staff satisfaction tests in the same way as has already been proposed for hospitals, David Cameron has announced.
[Story from The Guardian]
A “friends and family” test, in which patients and staff are asked whether they would recommend a service, is being introduced into every hospital in England from April, and the prime minister says the principle should be extended to GPs’ surgeries, district nursing and community hospitals.
Cameron and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, have identified standards of compassionate care provided by nurses and other staff as a safe issue on which the government can campaign after the political disaster of its health reforms last year. The move follows examples of appalling treatment of patients by some staff in high-profile cases, especially involving elderly patients.
Hunt is also leading a drive to improve the treatment of dementia, which is taking up increasing NHS resources.
Apart from better training and more patient satisfaction tests, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will undertake a review of inductions for care staff to ensure that nobody can provide unsupervised help without an appropriate level of training. New minimum training standards for care staff will be published within weeks.
Cameron is also promising every NHS ward will have a “dementia champion” and every NHS organisation a dementia nursing expert. A £50m incentive scheme will be available to improve dementia care in 2013-14.
Cameron is also promising that hour-by-hour care rounds will be introduced in every hospital by the end of the year.
He suggests that nurses and midwives at the beginning of their careers will be given the opportunity to become “care makers”, a new initiative to use volunteer ambassadors in hospitals and homes to improve care. The initiative builds on the success of the London Olympic Games Makers.
Cameron said: “We still have a long way to go to raise standards across the NHS and get rid of those cases of poor and completely unacceptable care that blight some hospitals and homes.
“So, from April, we will introduce a friends and family test and patient-led inspections across all hospitals.
“The test is a simple measure but crucially will show whether there is a basic standard of dignity, cleanliness and respect.”
Hunt said: “The new friends and family test will shine a light on standards of care throughout the system and help expose the shocking examples of poor care that have been coming to light much earlier.”
The friends and family test for patients has been piloted in the Midlands and the east of England, with average scores increasing significantly since April 2012 (by 14 points on the 100-point scale used). A £50m incentive pot will be available for hospitals to support extension of the friends and family test.
“Since he entered Downing Street, almost 7,000 nursing jobs have been lost. In many hospitals, staff are overstretched and the CQC recently found that 16% of hospitals do not have adequate staffing levels. This is what David Cameron should be addressing, rather than blaming nurses and lecturing them on how to do their jobs.”
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