A new drive to free up nurses to provide the care patients and relatives expect has been announced this week by Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
The Prime Minister announced the following priorities:
Patients not paperwork: getting rid of a swathe of bureaucracy that stops nurses from doing what they do best.
Regular nursing rounds: to systematically and routinely check that patients are comfortable, are properly fed and hydrated, and are treated with dignity and respect, with the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) helping to make it happen.
Leadership on the wards: people want to see a figure of authority on the ward. To help do so, a Nursing Quality Forum of front line nurses and nursing leaders will be set up, charged with taking a national leadership role in promoting excellent care and ensuring good practice is adopted across the NHS.
New patient-led inspections of hospital wards: local people will go in as part of teams assessing cleanliness, dignity and nutrition and their findings will be published.
New 'friends and family test': this will ask whether patients, carers and staff would recommend their hospital to their families and friends in their hour of need. The results will be published and hospital leaders who fail this test will be held to account.
The Prime Minister said:
"We know the vast majority of patients are very happy with the care provided by the NHS. And I've seen the NHS at its very best. But we have heard recently that in some hospitals patients are not provided with the level care or respect they deserve and I am absolutely appalled by this.
"If we want dignity and respect, we need to focus on nurses and the care they deliver. The whole approach to caring in this country needs to be reset. And it needs to start with this simple fact. Caring for patients is what nurses do. Everything else comes second."