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Doctors to take Responsibility for all of their Patient’s Care

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13 Jun 2014

New guidance from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges will, for the first time, make doctors responsible for the whole of a patient’s care during their stay in hospital. The so-called ‘name over the bed’ initiative will make it clear to patients, their carers, nurses and relatives, which doctor is ultimately responsible for all aspects of their care. The guidelines also say a ‘Named Nurse’ should be available to provide patients with information about their care and should be a primary point of contact.

The move follows one of the Francis Report’s key recommendations that if a named clinician were accountable throughout a patient’s treatment in hospital then patient safety and the overall quality of care could be improved. It will help make sure that patients are only discharged if it is in their best interests, with appropriate support from friends, family or carers and when it is safe and clinically appropriate to so, particularly if a patient is vulnerable. 

The guidelines have been produced by the Academy following a request by Jeremy Hunt MP, The Secretary of State for Health, in 2013 to examine ways to improve the accountability of clinicians and communication with patients and families. The Academy has worked closely with patient groups, employers and nurses’ representatives and NHS England throughout the process. The General Medical Council is also issuing advice today (13TH June) which consolidates its previous guidance to doctors on their responsibilities for patients. It can be found here

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP said:

"Patients tell us that, too often, their care isn’t joined up. That’s why every patient should have a single responsible clinician whose job it is to help them with anything that goes wrong and make sure they get the care they need. This guidance will make that a reality – it has been developed by clinicians, for clinicians, and is a huge step forward for patient safety.

"I am very grateful to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges for their work which will help to make sure patients experience the best care during their hospital stay."

Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair of the Academy said:

"Doctors recognise that we need to have clear lines of responsibility when it comes to the way patients are treated during their stay in hospital. Some hospitals have already implemented a ‘name over the bed’ process and where they have, patients say they have more confidence that someone is taking overall responsibility for them.  They also know who to go to if they have questions or if they think something needs to be done differently. This is vital if we are to drive up standards of care and continue to safeguard patient safety."

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