Headlines: August 29th, 2003

One of the country’s most senior nurses has been appointed as Patient Champion for Accident and Emergency services. Jonathan Asbridge , who is President of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and former Chief Nurse at St Bartholomew’s hospital will lead the drive for improvement by supporting NHS staff as well as patients.In his new role it is expected that he will help, assist and encourage staff to be responsive to the needs of patients and to act as a national spokesperson in promoting good practice in A&E throughout the health service.

Mr. Asbridge says patients who walk into accident and emergency departments will always see things differently from staff who work there everyday and that it is by talking to patients about their experiences that the NHS learns what matters most. Health minister Rosie Winterton said the appointment had been made because the government wanted to make A&E departments work better and see changes that would make every patient feel as comfortable and confident as possible. The government has already set up a two million pound Patient Experience Fund, making 10,000 pounds available to all A&E Modern Matrons to support good work across the country.

The Department of Health has also distributed a leaflet called “Improving the Patient Experience in Accident & Emergency Departments” to encourage hospitals to look at the service and facilities they provide. With the focus having been on the time spent in A&E, the leaflet looks at how to make the overall patient experience better and gives examples of how it can be improved.

Jonathan Asbridge has a background in critical care nursing and has worked in both general and specialised intensive care units before moving into management. He has previously been Director of Nursing at the Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and at Addenbrookes in Cambridge. He chaired the review of adult critical care nursing in England in 1999, which made a significant contribution to “Comprehensive Critical Care” which was published by the Government in 2000.