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Hospitals score poorly on some aspects of care

PUBLISHED: 13:29 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:31 06 July 2010

Patients have painted a mixed picture of too few nurses, not enough information and long waiting times in a survey of our region's hospitals released today.

Patients have painted a mixed picture of too few nurses, not enough information and long waiting times in a survey of our region's hospitals released today.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn was worst in the country on the number of patients who thought there were not enough nurses to care for them. The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which came out as one of the best hospitals in the country for quality of care in last year's survey, has more mixed results this year, with emergency care and patients' time on the ward coming out particularly badly. Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, which provides specialist heart treatment for the region, has emerged as one of the best in the country.

The N&N was in the bottom 20 hospitals in the country for patients' views of emergency care and the hospital environment. In particularly, it scored in the worst fifth in the country for quality of food, noise at night from staff, and for patients saying they had mixed-sex bathroom or shower facilities. N&N chief executive Anna Dugdale said they were puzzled by this last response, as all the wards have separate shower facilities for men and women.

“We have recently introduced baked potatoes and salad trolleys on our wards in direct response to feedback from patients. Our ward sisters have also been doing a lot of work to make the wards quieter during the night by arranging for waste bins and apron dispensers to be altered to make them quieter.”

The N&N did better than most other hospitals for explanations of operations, and giving patients privacy while their condition was discussed.

The QEH was the worst in the country on the numbers of patients who thought there were not enough nurses to care for them. The hospital also scored poorly on the time taken for the call bell to be answered. Patients were also more likely to say that there was no-one to talk to about their worries and fears. But very few people wanted to complain about their treatment, and it did well on patients being offered a choice of food. The hospital says these are the views of a “relatively small sample group” but that it will be taking action. A spokesman said: “We have been actively recruiting nurses over the past 12 months and we are shortly to start a new campaign to encourage qualified nursing staff who may have given up work to raise a family to return to work here.”

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, which has made great efforts to crack down on superbugs, scored particularly well on hospital cleanliness and handwashing by staff. But it did less well for time waited to be admitted to hospital. Nick Coveney, director of nursing and patient services, said: “Our patients rated us among the best nationally for the cleanliness of the hospital environment and hand washing, hospital food, privacy when being examined or treated and when discussing conditions and treatments and the availability of hospital staff to talk to about worries and fears.”

The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury did well on patients having confidence and trust in nurses, and few people felt they wanted to complain. But waiting times for admission to hospital and having to share bathroom and shower areas scored relatively poorly.

The survey was carried out last summer by the Picker Institute for the Care Quality Commission, the national watchdog which has replaced the Healthcare Commission. It is the sixth year of the survey.

Cynthia Bower, CQC chief executive, said: “We expect trusts to be interrogating these results and asking themselves how they can improve.”

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