The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt spelt out a series of measures set to transform the culture of the NHS, in response to the public enquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal, the BBC reported.
One of the issues that has attracted the most debate is the issue of ‘staffing levels’ and the aim is to encourage to get trusts to be more open over their staffing levels; however, the RCN general secretary Peter Carter advised that it is important that the trust also have the ability to take action if their staffing levels fall below a certain number. Mr Carter further told the BBC that the ‘greater transparency’ will also raise the issue of whether or not there is enough staff available.
Official figures show 6,000 nursing posts have been lost since the election – about 2% of the total. However, despite this there is to be no national minimum staffing standard, as it is likely to differ from ward to ward and speciality to speciality. The proposals include recommended nurse to patient ratios for different types of ward. This would make sense as certain wards, for example ITU require 1:1 nursing, whereas a general surgical ward does not.
Therefore, one of the key steps included getting hospitals to publish details of whether or not they have enough nurses on wards; and from April 2014 patients will be able to see the numbers on a new national website.
Further announcements of change include:
- A criminal offence of wilful neglect to hold staff to account;
- A care certificate to ensure healthcare assistances and social care workers have the right skills and training;
- Every patient should have the names of the responsible consultant and nurse listed above their bed.
Mr Hunt believes that ‘we can be the safest healthcare system in the world with these changes’. However, that remains to be seen.
The NHS used to be the envy of the world, but despite its obvious problems, I believe that it still remains a good system and excellent care can be found within and the majority of people do not become a victim of its very public inadequacies. I still believe in it and hopefully it can be fixed, improved and brought back to health without destroying itself in the process.