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Ward rounds should be top priority

4th October 2012

Doctors and nurses leaders have warned that ward rounds are being neglected in hospitals.

medical professionals

The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing said the situation was having an impact on patient care and that rounds needed to be re-prioritised and become a “cornerstone” of daily hospital life again.

The two colleges said key staff were often unavailable for rounds - which they said were important for communicating with patients, monitoring progress and arranging treatment and discharge – leaving doctors to do them alone.

Dr Linda Patterson, clinical vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “Despite being a key component of daily hospital activity, ward rounds have been a neglected part of the planning and organisation of patient care.

“There are no national guidelines or templates on how to run a ward round, there is still considerable variation across hospitals.

“We often under estimate the importance of ward rounds for patients, and sometimes don't allow enough time for patients to discuss their anxieties or for relatives to be involved with care.”

The two organisations said staff being stretched too thinly and poor organisation was a factor in the issue.

Their guidance recommends hospitals should prepare properly for wards rounds by holding a pre-round briefing, conduct them in the mornings and ensure a nurse and other staff are present.

Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy said: “High quality, consistent ward rounds in every hospital would contribute to a more patient centred culture in the NHS. This is crucial reading for the government and trusts.”

 

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