RCN Backs QualityWatch Report

Royal College Of Nursing Wants To See More Community Health Services


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has welcomed the first annual assessment of QualityWatch - a major research programme that offers independent analysis on the standard of health and social care services in the UK.

Launched by the Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust, the report provides an overview of two main studies.

Firstly, it looks at emergency hospital admissions between 2001 and 2013 and how these can be reduced by improving the quality of primary and outpatient care. It also scrutinises trends relating to the treatment received by people who suffered hip fractures between 2001 and 2011.

The Nuffield Trust recently revealed that accident and emergency departments are dealing with more than one million unnecessary cases every year, which is piling pressure on the NHS.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said the QualityWatch report provided a "very useful assessment" of what needs to be done to improve the quality of health and social care services across the country.

He felt the study offered enough evidence to suggest the government cannot afford to cut the resources of hospitals without investing in community services, allowing them to "take up the slack".

"The focus on preventable hospital admissions paints a familiar but worrying picture of patients being needlessly admitted to hospitals with conditions which could have been treated or prevented with better community care," he commented.

"We support calls to deliver services in a new way, with a greater focus on community services."

For this to happen, he added, there needs to be far more funding and care providers must also recruit a greater number of skilled staff who are capable of maintaining high standards in the long term.

Mr Carter thinks district nurses have an important role to play in driving down the number of avoidable emergency hospital admissions.

However, there has been a 40 per cent reduction in their numbers over the last ten years - a trend that needs to be reversed, according to the RCN chief.

Expert Opinion
This review is seeking to reduce the number of people being treated in hospital when treatment for their condition is more appropriate within a community care setting. QualityWatch must be applauded for trying to ensure that NHS resources are used to best effect and if treatment in the community is more suitable and will be of a higher quality for that individual then it should be encouraged. However this must not be an exercise in reducing numbers and figures for the sake of it.

“Patient safety should be the primary concern for all involved in healthcare and each individual should be given the best possible treatment they require, whether that is via admission to hospital, care in the community or by their GP.

“There have been so many reviews of health services over the past year which have recommended changes and improvements. It is now vital that the resulting actions achieve the intended aim of improving the standard of services for patients in future.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner