Tag Archives: England

Inspired by NHS, Lieberman calls for reporters to spotlight patient safety improvements

Fresh off a trip to powwow with health journalists, academics and officials in England as a Fulbright Senior Specialist, AHCJ Immediate Past President Trudy Lieberman writes on CJR.org about what American health systems can learn from the British National Health Service when it comes to patient safety.

In particular, Lieberman looks at the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, which has pushed a few simple changes that have lead to measurable and marked improvements in several key safety measures and are, she writes, embraced by “almost all U.K. hospitals.”

Since 2007 the Institute has fostered nurse-led innovations to improve care in such areas as patient hygiene, nursing procedures, meals, medicines, and ward rounds that frees up more time to be with patients. Now almost all UK hospitals embrace some of these practices. Positive stats from this “Releasing Time to Care” project show a thirteen percentage point increase in the median time spent on direct care; a seven percentage point increase in median patient satisfaction scores, and a twenty-three percentage point increase in median patient observations.

The innovations include little tricks like nurses donning red pinafores to signal “don’t interrupt me, I’m dispensing medication” and charting patient falls with red dots on a hospital floor plan, so that problem areas can be easily spotted.

According to Lieberman, simple changes like these don’t get the attention or widespread adoption they deserve. Thus, she ends her piece with a call to arms for health journalists, asking them to tell the stories of the sort of simple, easy-to-relate-to steps that are saving lives on both sides of the pond (Oregon, in particular, has been quick to follow the NHS lead in these areas).

So where does the press fit into all this? Media outlets in the UK and the US have something in common—they aren’t much interested in reporting good news and what works. It’s in our journalistic DNA to ferret out the evil, bad, and ugly with the hope that press exposure will change practice. But my visit to the NHS showed that positive change does happen and should be reported. Taylor told me she tried to interest British journos in some of the Institute’s achievements but got “not a sniff.”

“Journalists don’t celebrate success,” she said, “but innovation is to be shared.” Nor has there been any interest from U.S. reporters. CareOregon hasn’t sent out any press releases partly because the results are just coming in and because officials fear that the U.S. stereotype of the NHS is so powerful the program might die a-borning. If I were still a local consumer reporter, I would forget about all that ambiguous, hard-to-interpret data about hospital quality and look for concrete improvements patients and families can relate to, like red pinafores and scorecards for reducing falls. Then I would make a how-to comparison chart showing which hospitals were embracing some of the simple technologies that appear to work.

England’s National Health Service: Liberation or devastation?

The British ConDem coalition government has unveiled plans for sweeping and controversial changes to the National Health Service in England[1], which would see its workforce of around 1 million reduced to near zero within five years, with a combination of large-scale cuts and job losses, and staff hived off to the private sector and ‘social enterprises’. And while services would still be available to all free at point of use, and funded from taxation, the NHS would effectively be reduced from a public service to a ‘single payer’ fund of taxpayers’ money to be used to purchase health care from a range of private nonprofit and for-profit providers. Continue reading

Reports reveal problems in England’s NHS

England’s Care Quality Commission, a regulatory agency, has found that a quarter of the National Health Services hospital trusts fail to meet basic standards of hygiene, according to The Telegraph‘s Andrew Hough.

Some of the failures included 36 trusts not providing areas to decontaminate instruments, three trusts failing to regularly flush unused water outlets while more than a dozen trusts failed to keep clinical areas clean.

Photo by rosefirerising via Flickr
Photo by rosefirerising via Flickr

As Hough reports, the revelations come just days after a BBC investigation found that hospital trusts have given incorrect information on their performance and quality of care.


Conflicting demands on their job and being rushed or understaffed were common problems revealed by a recent survey of employees of England’s National Health System, as The Telegraph‘s Rebecca Smith reports.

The NHS, according to its Web site is “the world’s largest publicly funded health service” with more than 1.7 million employees. The survey was done by the Care Quality Commission.

The CQC reports some improvements in job satisfaction, however:

Approximately half of all staff would recommend their trust as a place to work, and just under two thirds are happy with the standard of care provided by their trust. There has also been a substantial rise in the % of staff saying that they have had training in infection control.