A Birmingham hospital where care of the elderly has been called into question has introduced a wave of new initiatives.
An urgent review of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QE), in Edgbaston, was instigated after Birmingham’s Health Scrutiny Committee received a series of complaints.
Committee chairwoman Coun Deirdre Alden said, in December, she was worried the £2.6 billion new QE could be “another Stafford Hospital”, where care failings went under the radar and led to the needless deaths of 400 patients.
Kay Fawcett, chief nurse of University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, revealed nurses have been told to carry out new care rounds and be more proactive with patients, on the back of the complaints.
Since March, every patient is now checked hourly by a hospital worker, including whether they need a drink and can reach the emergency button.
New care groups to discuss issues have also been launched and nearly 1,000 volunteers enlisted in a dignity project to sit with elderly patients and keep them company.
“They seem like simple things but it is the reduction of isolation and it is important for a patient to see someone every hour,” said Miss Fawcett.
“This is happening on every single ward and I have made it very clear that it is everyone’s job.
“The most important thing is that we start to get back to things that matters most to patients.
“We have learned a lot of lessons and learned that patients and relatives are useful people to tell us about care We encourage people to complain because it is the way we can learn.
“I say to staff that if you see a problem, then run towards it. I’m turning around a big culture of just saying ‘make a complaint’.”
Complaints made last year included a blind pensioner who allegedly went without food because health workers put meals in front of her without telling her it was there. There was a man left desperately thirsty because no-one found him a beaker for water.
A woman also reported discovering her elderly mother lying sprawled on the floor after falling off a bed pan as she tried to get comfortable because nurses ignored her bell call.