Ward rounds in medicine: Principles for best practice, a joint report by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Royal College of Physicians (RCP), calls for ward rounds to be made the cornerstone of patient care, and advocates for a change in culture change whereby clinical staff, managers and hospital executives engage with, and focus on, improving the quality of ward rounds.
Commenting on the report, Mr Farrar said: "This report provides a number of useful recommendations for how we can overcome the barriers that prevent staff working collectively on some wards. We should listen to what staff say and their ideas about how services can best work."
Many of the report's recommendations complement those put forward in the Commission on improving dignity in care for older people's final report. The RCN and RCP's recommendations include;
- preparation for the ward round should include a pre-round briefing
- consultant-led ward rounds should be conducted in the morning to facilitate timely completion of tasks during the working day
- a nurse should be present at every bedside as part of the ward round
- patient, carers and relatives should be provided with a ‘summary sheet’ clearly presenting information discussed in the ward round
- patients with dementia and learning disabilities should be supported as far as possible to make decisions about their care
- patients’ records should be kept centrally to promote effective communication and team working
- ward-round teams should utilise locally adapted checklists to reduce omissions, improve patient safety and strengthen multidisciplinary communication.
Mr Farrar highlighted that: "Ward rounds provide an invaluable space for doctors, nurses, and managers to come together to discuss and plan the joined-up care that patients rightly expect.
"They provide patients with the chance to give feedback on the standards of their care. And they allow staff the opportunity to reflect on the care they provide and how they could improve it.
Improving standards of care
"Many of the recommendations in this report complement those we put forward in our Dignity Commission joint report. If we are to improve standards of care then it is essential we empower ward staff to plan care, take responsibility for staffing levels and design systems that are in the best interests of patients."
Having the right systems in place
Mr Farrar continued: "The NHS is having to support a significant number of older patients and people with dementia which means more intensive and specialist care is needed throughout many hospitals. Staff communication and daily ward rounds are key to making sure the right systems are in place to provide the best care for these patients.
"Making ward rounds effective in all hospitals will require a change of culture on some wards, and a change in working relationships. The challenge now is to get all hospital wards up to the best standards."
Find out more
Dowload the report from the Royal College of Physicians' website.
Find our more about the Commission on improving dignity in care for older people.