Hospital ward struggling to make the hygiene grade

PUBLISHED: 07:58 09 October 2011

Weston General Hospital

Weston General Hospital

Copyright Archant Ltd

A NEW ranking system designed to investigate issues such as staffing and hygiene at Weston General Hospital has revealed potential problems in one of its wards.

The Early Warning Trigger Tool (EWTT) is a self-regulating scoring chart which measures what areas need improving across the hospital to ensure no problems develop to the detriment of patients.

The EWTT evaluates a ward’s performance on a variety of factors including staff vacancies, hygiene issues, infection outbreaks and general tidiness.

Uphill Ward’s score of 16 points was more than the recommended 12 and put it in the red zone. Three wards, Harptree, Hutton and Steepholm, were all ranked as an ‘amber’ risk.

Last month Uphill Ward was closed temporarily after an outbreak of norovirus and Ian Bramley, the hospital’s director of nursing, said its role meant it was always likely to struggle to match the performance of other wards.

He said: “Uphill Ward is a temporary ward that is providing the trust with flexibility to manage extra capacity which results in fluctuations of demand and length of stay. Almost by definition an extra capacity ward will be [in the red zone].

“The ward has a senior ward sister assigned to lead it with a number of experienced nurses from other wards providing leadership but the bulk of its nursing work force is, however, temporary staff.

“If a ward appears untidy it can appear that the care is slapdash.”

The high proportion of elderly patients who are ‘frail or immobile’ was also said to be a factor.

Mr Bramley said the information collected will be passed onto ward sisters and matrons so they can tackle the issues before they begin to affect patient care.

He added that similar systems used across the South West had shown it takes about three months for a red-risk ward to be downgraded.

Weston Area Health Trust’s new chief executive, Peter Colclough, welcomed the new scoring system and said he thought it would inspire staff as ‘nobody wants to be 
perceived to be off the pace’.

In August the Care Quality Commission visited Uphill and Berrow wards after previously raising concerns over the hospital’s recordkeeping and whether it was ensuring all patients’ personal wishes were carried out.

On their revisit they were satisfied that the hospital had made the necessary changes and had no concerns over patients care.

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