Borders hospital staff praised by patients in report

Borders General Hospital bosses welcomed a report published by Healthcare Improvement Scotland yesterday following an inspection looking at how well it cares for older people.

The Borders General Hospital at Melrose.
The Borders General Hospital at Melrose.

That unannounced inspection in November included questioning of patients, visitors and staff.

The report listed four areas of good practice at the Melrose hospital, including that patients were being treated well and that mealtimes were well-organised.

However, the 300-plus-bed hospital was found wanting elsewhere, with nine separate areas of improvement listed, including documenting the care it gives, how people being admitted are assessed and the use of wound assessment charts for patients with “a known pressure ulcer or break in skin integrity”.

Ian Smith, head of quality of care at Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “During our inspection, we saw that patients were treated with dignity and respect.

“Mealtimes were well co-ordinated and managed, with a good range of snacks available to patients.

“However, to improve care, NHS Borders must ensure that older people who are admitted to hospital are accurately assessed within the national standard recommended timescales.”

Cliff Sharp, medical director at NHS Borders, said: “This is a good report that highlights a number of areas of good practice such as our rapid assessment and discharge team which improves patient flow, so that our patients go to more homely, appropriate settings in a timelier manner.

“Well-co-ordinated patient mealtimes were outlined as another example of good practice.

“In some areas, such as our elderly wards, mealtimes also provide valuable social opportunities which make hospital stays more interesting.

“The report also recognises the improvement work we have undertaken through our Back to Basics programme since the last inspection in June 2017 and that training and education has been given a high priority.

“While good progress has been made in many areas, we accept that improvement work is a continuous process and all of these practices need to be fully embedded.”

The report showed that of the patients questioned, the vast majority were happy with their level of care, and all said they were treated with dignity and respect and that staff interactions with themselves and their family had been courteous and positive.

One said: “Courteous team, make you feel important when they talk to you. They don’t talk down to you.”

Another patient said: “Looking after me very well in here. Absolute angels.”

However, another patient still said: “Buzzers at times are slow to be answered. I understand that staff are busy.”

Another still complained about not being able to sleep at night as it was too noisy.

Nicky Berry, director of nursing, midwifery and acute services, told us: “We would like to thank our staff for their full co-operation and engagement with the inspectors during their visit and their response to the feedback given.

“Over the past year, we have worked hard to drive forward our Back to Basics improvement programme, and inspectors saw evidence that this has led to improvements – for example, complaints due to communication issues within wards have reduced.

“However, inspections reflect a specific point in time so whilst we have made progress since June 2017, we recognise that there is more work to be done with our documentation.

“For instance, we need to focus on more accurate documentation done at the right time.

“To address this, we have developed an action plan focusing on reviewing documentation and practices, trialling spot checks of documentation and further embedding our improvement work to reduce variation.

“Our staff do really good work every day caring for our patients in a friendly, approachable and courteous way whilst ensuring their dignity, respect and privacy.

“We are delighted inspectors observed this and heard positive feedback from patients about the quality of care they receive at the Borders General Hospital.”