Named doctors in hospitals

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Following the Francis report into the failings at Stafford hospital, it was recommended that “named clinicians should be responsible for the welfare and care of each patient in hospital”.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges collated existing guidance and produced Guidance for doctors acting as responsible consultants or clinicians’.  

The guidance states that hospital patients in England should know which senior doctor is responsible for overseeing their care and they should also be given details of the nurse who can answer their questions. These names should be visible over or beside the bed of patients.

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.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges chairman Professor Terence Stephenson said the move gave patients greater confidence in their care as, “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.”

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

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