Scottish nurses are to be given more time to care for patients, it was announced yesterday. The Scottish government said its “releasing time to care” programme can give nurses up to 40 per cent more time with patients through improving efficiency on the wards. The project is already under way in eight of the country’s health boards and will now be introduced nationwide as part of a new Quality Strategy, launched yesterday.It is said to help improve hand hygiene dramatically and to reduce staff absence.The strategy calls for an NHS which is safe, clinically effective and centred on the patient.
Linda King, a senior charge nurse, said: “This is about improving clinical care through a well-organised ward. Our motto in here is ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. By working to this we know exactly where to find our equipment and supplies, and knowing if they are not in their place then they are in use. “It’s quite simple really but this is saving a significant amount of staff time searching for things.” She added: “Starting this project was fairly daunting at first to identify how we could reduce wasted time in order to increase the time we spend with patients.”
Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “All too often I hear people say of their dealings with the NHS that the clinical care was good, but that the food or communication could have been better or that they didn’t feel they were treated with enough dignity and respect. “The task facing us all is to ensure the way patients are treated becomes as important to everyone delivering healthcare as how quickly they are treated. The Quality Strategy will enable us to achieve this.”
The Royal College of Nursing warned the programe might be hard to implement when health boards were “struggling” to balance the books. Scottish director Theresa Fyffe said: “What concerns us is how, at a time when health boards are already struggling to balance their books, the Scottish Government can ensure that this radical new approach is adopted by health boards and successfully rolled out to staff. “The Scottish Government needs to reinforce the central importance of quality care and support a culture of improvement within the NHS.”