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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Whatever happened to observation?

Photo: The National Archives

Anyone who has witnessed the problems highlighted in the Keogh Report first hand will have been appalled by the mud slinging in the Commons when the Health Secretary made his statement. The findings of "poor care, inadequate staffing and bad management" come as no surprise. See "Death by care" here and "NHS: Here we go again" here. This has been going on for decades.

That there is something wrong in the NHS has been obvious for years but being the sacred cow that it has become, criticism has been unacceptable even when watching a member of your own family die from an infection picked up in hospital where infection control was so lax that doctors and nurses had to be reminded to wash their hands.

Long gone are the days when the Ward Sister knew every patient, their diagnosis and recovery regime, when meals were supervised so it was obvious if a patient was not being properly nourished. When backs were rubbed to avoid bed sores, mouths kept clean and, of paramount importance, patients were observed by nurses training on the wards to care for patients. Nowadays it is not the ward but the nursing station that is the hive of activity. Is it any wonder that 'observation' has become a lost art?

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