NHS ward rounds 'neglected'

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are united in calling for ward rounds to be made the cornerstone of patient care after a fall in standards.

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NHS: 'Empowering ward staff to help patients'

If we are to improve standards of care then it is essential we empower ward staff to plan care, take responsibility for staffing levels and design systems that are in the best interests of patients.

The NHS is having to support a significant number of older patients and people with dementia which means more intensive and specialist care is needed throughout many hospitals.

Staff communication and daily ward rounds are key to making sure the right systems are in place to provide the best care for these patients.

– NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar

Health Minister: 'Hospital wards essential to patient care'

Ward rounds are essential to the care of patients in our hospitals - and a number one priority for the Government.

NHS staff are at their best, and delivering their best, when they are actually with patients - not with paperwork.

Having the right team at the right time on a ward round means better care and quicker treatment decisions. We are already working with nursing leaders, including the Nursing and Care Quality Forum and the Royal College of Nursing to free up nurses' time and make this a reality.

– Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter

Key recommendations for hospital wards

  • Preparation for the ward round should include a pre-round briefing.
  • Consultant-led ward rounds should be conducted in the morning to facilitate timely completion of tasks during the working day.
  • A nurse should be present at every bedside as part of the ward round.
  • Patient, carers and relatives should be provided with a summary sheet clearly presenting information discussed in the ward round.
  • Patients with dementia and learning disabilities should be supported as far as possible to make decisions about their care.
  • Patients records should be kept centrally to promote effective communication and team working.
  • Ward-round teams should utilise locally adapted checklists to reduce omissions, improve patient safety and strengthen multidisciplinary communication.

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RCP: 'Ward rounds must focus on patients'

There is a danger that busy clinical staff have become too task orientated and less patient orientated in relation to the tasks that they are doing.

We need to get away from a situation where a manager says: 'Dr Temple your ward round takes three hours and you need to make it an hour and a quarter?'

We are all under pressure to save money - we're saying that a ward round is key to patient care and getting it right will save resources in the long term.

– Dr Mark Temple, acute care fellow at the RCP's Medical Workforce Unit

We often under estimate the importance of ward rounds for patients, and sometimes don't allow enough time for patients to discuss their anxieties or for relatives to be involved with care.

– Dr Linda Patterson, clinical vice president of the RCP

The holistic approach to ward rounds is something that is incredibly important and we do tend to miss that there is a whole person there - not just a medical condition.

There has been a gradual erosion of what I would call a good ward round but there are some areas out there of extremely good practice that we can all learn from.

– Suzie Hughes, chair of the RCP's Patient and Care Group

NHS hospitals 'neglecting ward rounds'

Hospital staff are being stretched so thin that critical ward rounds are being neglected, leading clinicians have said.

NHS
Hospital staff are said to be neglecting critical ward rounds Credit: PA Wire

Fewer members of staff, tighter budgets and a rising tide of admissions have led to a deterioration of ward rounds in hospitals, the Colleges have said.

The quality of rounds must improve to ensure that patients are seen as people and not conditions, they said.

Ward rounds are "critical" to patient care and should not be curtailed by hospital managers, they added.