Health secretary Jeremy Hunt visits University College Hospital 

13/06/2014 00:00 
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt visited University College Hospital today to launch the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges guidelines and to see UCLH’s work to ensure patients know the name of the doctor who is responsible for their care during their stay in hospital.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt visits University College Hospital 

Hospital patients in England should know which senior doctor is responsible for overseeing their care, according to the report published by the Academy today. They should also be given details of the nurse who can answer their questions. The names should be visible over or beside the bed of patients.

Mr Hunt visited ward T9 to talk to doctors, nurses and patients about how the system was working. He met patients Kerie King and Raymond Lyne who told him about their care in the hospital.

Ms King said: I have been cared for by (colorectal surgeon) Mr Richard Cohen for 15 years. We have a good relationship and I am glad he is the person ultimately responsible for all my medical treatment. Although I am also under the care of a neurologist for my spina bifida, I find that the doctors talk to each other before they make decisions and Mr Cohen is kept informed of all that happens. I cannot fault the care I get at this hospital. I have been here since the 12 February and I am looking forward to going home next week.

Mr Lyne said: “The staff here saved my life. The work they do is amazing and I don’t think you could get better care in a private hospital. I am hugely grateful to get such good care from the doctors and nurses and cannot praise them enough.”

The 'name over the bed' initiative follows one of the Francis Report's key recommendations that if a named clinician were accountable throughout a patient's treatment in hospital then patient safety and the overall quality of care could be improved.

It will help make sure that patients are only discharged if it is in their best interests, with appropriate support from friends, family or carers and when it is safe and clinically appropriate to so, particularly if a patient is vulnerable.

The guidelines were produced by the Academy following a request by Mr Hunt in 2013 to examine ways to improve the accountability of clinicians and communication with patients and families. The Academy has worked closely with patient groups, employers and nurses' representatives and NHS England throughout the process. The General Medical Council has also issued advice which consolidates its previous guidance to doctors on their responsibilities for patients.

Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair of the Academy said: 'Doctors recognise that we need to have clear lines of responsibility when it comes to the way patients are treated during their stay in hospital. Some hospitals (such as UCLH) have already implemented a 'name over the bed' process and where they have, patients say they have more confidence that someone is taking overall responsibility for them. They also know who to go to if they have questions or if they think something needs to be done differently. This is vital if we are to drive up standards of care and continue to safeguard patient safety.”

Mr Hunt said: “Patients tell us that, too often, their care isn't joined up. That's why every patient should have a single responsible clinician whose job it is to help them with anything that goes wrong and make sure they get the care they need. This guidance will make that a reality – it has been developed by clinicians, for clinicians, and is a huge step forward for patient safety. I am very grateful to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges for their work which will help to make sure patients experience the best care during their hospital stay.”

UCLH chief executive Sir Robert Naylor said: “We implemented the new headboards a year ago in response to comments that the clinician-patient relationship needed to be strengthened by making sure every patient, knows which individual is accountable for their care. This is a simple solution which puts UCLH at the forefront of being transparent about care."

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