Hospital wards are to be awarded “gold standard” stamps of approval by the Royal College of Physicians if they can prove they are meeting high standards in caring for the elderly.
The voluntary Elder-Friendly Ward Quality Mark scheme has been announced today as the central pillar of the RCP’s response to the Francis inquiry into care failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. Robert Francis’s report recorded numerous instances of appalling care of older patients. Reform of the sector has become a top priority.
Wards applying for the quality mark will also have to prove that they listen to the views of patients by conducting questionnaires seeking direct feedback about the quality of care. The first award would be made in 2014, following a pilot, the RCP said.
“Many of the instances of substandard care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust took place in medical wards caring for our most vulnerable patients: frail older people with complex co-morbidities,” the RCP’s registrar, Dr Patrick Cadigan, said. “Achieving ‘gold standard’ care for this group must be the priority. It will make a substantial contribution to ensuring that the events at Mid Staffordshire are never repeated.”
The scheme is one of 33 direct actions pledged by the RCP in their response to the Francis inquiry. Other measures include a review of doctors’ examinations to include checks on whether medical professionals are treating patients with dignity.
“Francis’ vision of the patient at the centre of everything the NHS does forces us to reconsider our own actions as individuals and as a body of professionals, and leaves no room for complacency,” Dr Cadigan said.