Health

Hospital patients to get named doctor

NHS doctor with patient Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The idea of a named consultant was called for by the Francis Inquiry

Hospital patients in England should know which senior doctor is responsible for overseeing their care, according to guidelines being published.

They should also be given details of the nurse who can answer their questions.

The names should be visible over or beside the bed of patients, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges advice says.

The move was one of the main recommendations of the public inquiry into failings at Stafford hospital.

The Francis report into the scandal, which said abuse and neglect had led to the unnecessary deaths of some patients, recommended that "named clinicians should be responsible for the welfare and care of each patient in hospital".

The academy was asked to draw up advice to help the NHS implement the change.

Many hospitals do already display the details, but the guidelines make it clear what is expected and which doctors should be responsible in which departments.

'Huge step forward'

Academy chairman Prof Terence Stephenson said the move gave patients greater confidence in their care.

He said: "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."

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that every patient should know "where the buck stops" in relation to their care.

"I think sometimes we have lost sight of who ultimately is responsible", he said.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who asked the academy to draw up the guidelines, said they were a "huge step forward for patient safety".

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said the policy would only work if the named doctor had "regular contact" with the patient, and was "not just a name on a board" behind them.

She said she hoped it would reduce people's "experiences of disjointed care" with no member of staff taking responsibility.

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