Private Business Intermediaries

NHS Struggles yet Ward Rounds are still key in the Private Sector…

18/10/2012 | By Sharmila Chauhan
Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said in a report in October 2012, that ward rounds are being neglected in hospitals and are no longer the “cornerstone" of patient treatment.

Ward rounds are usually carried out on a daily basis and involves a team of doctors, the ward sister or other nursing staff together with the pharmacist. The team review each patient, examining the notes, test results together with the patient to create a ‘line of action’ for each case. Not only does the ward round allows for dialogue between the medical team and the patient, but it also gives different members of the team a chance to discuss their particular concerns and issues for each patient.

However, recent cut-backs and staff shortages means that ward sisters and nurses are unable to join in the ward round; despite the fact that nurses play an essential role in patient care. “Long gone are the days when nurses were considered the handmaidens of the doctors.” Said Said Fran Campion-Smith, Group Director of Nursing and Patient Safety for BMI Healthcare. Nurses, doctors and allied healthcare professionals are all vital members of the team providing holistic care for their patients. “As part of this teamwork, which puts the patient at the centre of all decision making, communication is vital…”

A joint statement by the Royal College of Physicians and Nursing entitled  Ward rounds in medicine: Principles for best practice includes guidance for hospitals to help them get ward rounds right. But how does this picture apply to the private sector?

Our research suggests that whilst the NHS may be struggling; the private healthcare still prioritises the ward round and nurses form a valued part of the healthcare team. “Ward rounds are still considered key to this communication process. All decisions made at this time are documented and cascaded in a timely fashion to all members of the team concerned with the patient’s care.” Said Ms Campion-Smith.

In the NHS ideally consultants lead their students on ward rounds, yet there is a worry that this is being left to junior members of the team and now a real concern that senior nurses may also not have time to attend.

This may be due to the way that the private sector hospitals are set up. “The configuration and layout of our group of private hospitals in central London is very different to the NHS.” Said a spokesperson for the Wellington hospital. “The hospitals may have wards or floors where patients being treated for a particular type or group of conditions are treated.  Each of these wards or floors is overseen by a ward sister or sisters and also by The Chief Nursing Officer, her deputy and for larger hospitals, modern matrons.”

At Freedom we know that whilst the NHS focuses on teaching and encourages junior medical staff to take a lead role in patient care,  those who are treated in the private sector will always have their care direct with a consultant.  From the first consultation to the consultant visiting your room to chat over how the treatment is going, the same consultant and the senior nurse will be directing your care personally.

In the private sector, most patients enjoy have individual rooms. At the Wellington, London Bridge and Lister Hospital, the modern matrons also oversee this process and Chief Nursing Officers carry our their own rounds both on a regular basis.

Technology is also being used to its full advantage. Some hospitals “monitor patients using the latest telemetry systems with vital signs and other data available at nursing stations and at a central point and where ever a doctor/consultant wishes to log on,” explained a spokesperson for the North London hospitals.

Of the hospitals we spoke to – the role of nursing staff does seem very much prioritised. “One of the key roles of BMI Healthcare nurses is that of patient advocate, always acting in the patient’s best interests, the patient is at the centre of all care and treatment decisions and I consider their input to the ward rounds vital to the teamwork required to deliver outstanding care.” Said Ms Fran Campion-Smith.