Paul Burstow MP writes… Time to Care: patients not paperwork

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 candidate for Sutton and Cheam and was the MP until the dissolution of Parliament on 30th March.

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  • For all its faults the last administration can hold its head up on the NHS….
    From a 2010 BBC report………Much more was spent on the NHS and resulted in record numbers of doctors and nurses.
    Polls showed increased public satisfaction.
    Waiting times fell.
    The death rate fell by 17 per cent, particularly fast for circulatory diseases.
    The infant death rate halved.
    Hospitals, health centres and other NHS buildings improved and became more welcoming……..
    (By 2009 the NHS was doing as well in international comparisons, as it had in pre-Thatcher days, and was praised even by the IMF, not a known fan of socialised medicine)
    WHO declared English mental health services the best in Europe.)

    From the coalition we get ‘warm words and cuts in staffing levels’…

    As one nurse said, of these proposals, “I smell another self perpetuating oligarchy of the usual suspects generating another layer of bureaucratic matrons without portfolio. Meanwhile the redundancies continue and the subsequent deficiencies are supplemented by HCA’s; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!”

  • “From the coalition we get ‘warm words and cuts in staffing levels’…”

    Yes, and the attempt by the Tory side of the coalition to get 49% privatisation of NHS Hospitals through amendments in the House of Lords.

  • “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.”

    There’s 300,000 nurses in the NHS, so that 500,000 equates to 100 minutes per nurse per year, or around 2 minutes per week, 24 seconds per shift. At the same time your Government is getting rid of around 18,000 nurses(1), or 30 million hours per year.

    Do you really think you deserve plaudits for stealing 30 million hours from patients, and giving 1/60th back?

    (1) Source RCN quoted in

  • I love the NHS, and I’m not talking about nursing, but the existing system isn’t working and urgently needs reform.

    I queued to get into my GP’s surgery yesterday morning to seek an urgent appointment at 8:31am (it opened at 8:30am) only to be told that there were no appointments available until next week. The position is exactly the same as in 2005 when Tony Blair famously expressed ignorance of this state of affairs during a QT election special.

    GPs are paid a fortune based on the number of patients on their books, but their patients can’t see them!

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Jan '12 - 9:56am

    At the same time your Government is getting rid of around 18,000 nurses(1)

    The link you cite does not mention the number 18,000. It just mentions some vaguely claims from unions. The Government has responded that these claims are not true, and the actual number of nursing staff cut is 500.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Jan '12 - 10:41am

    @Andrew Suffield

    Actually, the report DM Andy linked to says “56,000 doctors, nurses, midwives and other NHS staff have lost or are due to lose their jobs” and “nursing posts [account] for 34% of the jobs already lost or earmarked to be cut.” 34% of 56,000 is in fact 19,000 not 18,000, but it hardly deserves to be called “vague”.

    Of course, that doesn’t prove that the RCN is correct (and describing it as “stealing 30 million hours from patients” is clearly nonsense) — but it’s a little disingenuous to cite as if it were definitive the government’s claim, which very carefully relates only to staff reductions already made whereas the RCN were clearly talking about what’s expected to happen over the course of this parliament.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Jan '12 - 11:12am

    the RCN were clearly talking about what’s expected to happen over the course of this parliament

    Ah, I see. So it’s the difference between actual numbers and some guesses that the RCN made up about what might happen in the future.

    (The number is clearly implausible)

  • …………….Ah, I see. So it’s the difference between actual numbers and some guesses that the RCN made up about what might happen in the future………

    So the figure is somewhere between 500 and 19,000. As you are certain that “(The number is clearly implausible)” you must have reason for that certainty. What is your estimate?

  • Paul, sorry to cause offence, but as a LibDem minister you’re about as much good as a chocolate fire-guard. The real work to at least try and undo the damage being done by the your Secretary of State through the NHS bill is in the House of Lords by peers of all parties.

  • Andrew Suffield 13th Jan '12 - 10:05am

    What is your estimate?

    We’re just under halfway through this parliament and 500 jobs have been cut. Therefore my estimate for the entire parliament is 1000.

    You don’t get to whine about “front loading” cuts and then sit around for five years claiming that “the cuts will soon start to bite”. They’ve happened. The sky did not fall.

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