Being a nurse is a tough job, and we all admire those who have a calling to care for others. But when a loved one is sick in hospital we quite understandably worry and want the best for them.
One of the most important tasks of government is to ensure that good standards of hospital care are maintained wherever people live and whatever their needs. To make progress on this key issue we must free-up nurses from red tape and allow them to carry out the work they’re trained to do.
As a Liberal Democrat health minister I have seen and heard many examples of brilliant nursing – and what a difference nurses make to the patients in their care. So, last week the Coalition announced that we will work with patients, carers, front line staff and with the Royal College of Nurses to focus on patients not paperwork and ensure that existing best practice like regular nursing rounds become commonplace.
On top of this, we are establishing a new Nursing and Care Quality Forum of frontline nurses, patients and carers who will act to promote excellent care across the NHS.
We also intend to pilot a new generation of patient-led inspections of hospital wards. Why patient led? Because we value the first-hand experiences of those being cared for, while promoting good standards of dignity, privacy and cleanliness.
The Time to Care NHS Institute initiative is being rolled out across hospital trusts to give advice and support to hospitals to redesign their working practices so that staff are free to care, rather than to fill out unnecessary forms. Time to Care has already helped nurses to spend an extra 500,000 hours with patients in one year, a figure that speaks for itself.
To further raise the levels of care we will give bonus payments to hospitals that perform well on four key measures of quality care: pressure ulcers, falls, blood clots and hospital infections. This is because action in these areas is an indicator of the basic standard of care we know everyone expects.
The Liberal Democrats believe everyone deserves to receive the same good standard of care, but we also need to support those whose job it is to deliver this vital service every day. The Time to Care scheme aims to achieve both of these essential goals.
* Paul Burstow is Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam and Chairman of the CentreForum Mental Health Commission.