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Cumbrians asked to get knitting for dementia patients

Credit: PA

Cumbrians are being asked to get out their knitting needles to help patients with dementia.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is launching a scheme where volunteers make a ‘twiddlemuff’, a basic knitted hand muff that has items such as buttons and flowers attached.

It's believed the design offers patients stimulation as they can "twiddle it in their hands", and can stop them harming themselves by taking out their cannula or scratching themselves.

The scheme has proved successful at other hospitals around the country.

Now the Trust is calling on keen knitters to help create a steady supply of twiddlemuffs, or for the less creative, to donate any leftover or odd balls of wool.

“Patients with dementia require distractive techniques as they tend to pull at their cuffs or clothes, or can even harm themselves, scratching at their hands or pulling out cannulas delivering intravenous fluids.

Twiddlemuffs have been proven to be an excellent way of distracting patients with dementia and keeping them calm, thereby allowing us to deliver safe, quality care.”

– Christine Musgrave, Elderly care matron and leader of the scheme

The knitting pattern can be found online.

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Tanzanian scientists learn from Cumbrian hospitals

Dr Anthony Nsojo and Felician Msingwa spent time shadowing staff across the region Credit: North Cumbria University Hospital Trust

Scientists from Mbeya Hospital in Tanzania have just completed a two week visit to hospitals in Cumbria, where they were looking at how laboratories in the UK work.

Microbiologists Dr Anthony Nsojo and Felician Msingwa spent time shadowing staff across the region and will take their findings back to Tanzania.

The trip was part of North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust's Tanzanian link. It was funded by a grant from the Tropical Health Education Trust and the Department for International Development.

“As a senior team we are really keen to support projects like this and do anything we can to help the future development of such a worthwhile programme.”

– Helen Ray, Chief operating officer

Trust needed to improve staffing levels

Staffing levels will be one of the focuses of the follow-up inspection of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which will review the specific problems identified with the Trust in its 2014 inspection.

The Care Quality Commission says it will talk to both staff and the public as part of its "robust" review after the Trust's "Requires Improvement" rating last year.

The results, which are expected to be published in 12 weeks time, will consider how far the trust has progressed since it was placed in special measures.

Care Quality Commission begins follow up inspection

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The Care Quality Commission will officially begin a follow up inspection of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust today.

The inspection team will speak to hospital staff and patients about services after the trust received a rating of 'Requires Improvement' in April 2014.

The CGC is particularly interested in hearing about the public's experiences since the rating, but also where they would like to see improvements made in the future.

Public can help Cumbria Hospital improvements

The Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle Credit: ITV Border

Members of the public are being asked to play their part to improve pressures on North Cumbria hospitals.

Efforts are being focused on reducing the need to maintain escalation beds, which have put a strain on normal routine business when hospitals are at capacity.

Health and social partners are working to make sure patients who do not need to be in an acute hospital bed, are safely discharged to a more appropriate care setting or home with the right package of care.

The public are being asked to help reduce pressures, and are being reminded:

  • to think twice before using A&E or calling 999 for serious life threatening emergencies
  • to think about using other NHS services such as walk-in centres and pharmacies or call Cumbria Health on Call (out of hours) on 03000 247247 for advice on alternative urgent services available
  • to stay away from hospital if they have any symptoms of sickness or diarrhoea.

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Progress for North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust

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Progress has been made to improve the safety and quality of care at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, according to the results of a staff survey published this week.

Although the Trust remains amongst the lowest 20% of acute NHS organisations nationally, the Trust claims the results show that there have been small improvements in many areas. It was ranked above average when compared to other acute NHS trusts for staff receiving equality and diversity, and health and safety training.

The Trust maintains that while the results are pleasing, it knows there is more work to be done.

"The past year has continued to be challenging as we remain in special measures but I am proud to see that despite this, our staff are motivated to implement our improvements and go the extra mile for our patients.

"Although these results are a step in the right direction for the Trust again this year, we are under no illusions an know that we still have a lot of work to do and progress to make which we believe we can achieve."

– Gail Naylor, director of nursing and midwifery at the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust

Spending on temporary doctors more than doubles

The Trust says the spending is necessary Credit: ITV Border

Hospitals in North Cumbria will spend an estimated £16.5 million on temporary doctors this year, which is £10 million more than three years ago.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust says it has been open and honest about the recruitment challenges it is faced with.

A spokeswoman for the Trust insisted the spending is an "entirely necessary measure" but local MP Jamie Reed says it's unacceptable.

North Cumbria University NHS Trust signs up to campaign

Gail Naylor, director of nursing & midwifery, signing up to the campaign Credit: North Cumbria University Hospital NHS Trust

North Cumbria University Hospital NHS Trust has signed up to the 'Hello my name is..' campaign.

The campaign reminds staff to go back to basics and introduce themselves to patients properly.

It was started by Dr Kate Granger in order to improve the patient experience after she became frustrated with the number of staff who failed to introduce themselves to her when she was in hospital.

More than 100 NHS organisations that have joined the movement .

A&E departments 'improving' in North Cumbria

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has improved. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Accident and emergency departments at West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary are improving, according to the Care Quality Commission's national patient survey.

The hospitals, run by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, showed improvements in six questions, including waiting times, opportunities for relatives to speak to a doctor and receiving prompt attention from staff when needed.

They were listed as 'average' in seven of the eight categories, and 'above' average in the eighth.

  • Arrival at A&E - 8.2/10 - Average
  • Waiting times - 7.0/10 - Above
  • Doctors and nurses - 8.4/10 - Average
  • Care and treatment - 8.0/10 - Average
  • Tests - 8.2/10 - Average
  • Hospital environment and facilities - 8.4/10 - Average
  • Leaving A&E - 6.1/10 - Average
  • Experience overall - 8.6/10 - Average

315 people who had attended one of the Trust’s A&E departments between January and March 2014 took the survey.

The results will be used in the regulation, monitoring and inspection of the Trust.

But, the Trust is aware that in recent weeks the 95% emergency care standard (patients being seen, treated and admitted or discharged from A&E within four hours) was not maintained, and dropped to 85% in October.

“We are delighted with the 2014 results, showing improvement in almost every area and being rated as one of the best performing hospitals in some areas, particularly for waiting times.

“Our emergency departments have been very busy in recent weeks, with high numbers of people attending and our clinical teams have consistently showed their dedication and commitment to their patients. The survey demonstrates real progress for the teams in both of our hospitals who are working hard to provide a safe, caring and compassionate service.”

– Dr Peter Weaving, clinical director for emergency care at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
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