A culture of compassion

Following a number of high profile reports into the standards of care within the NHS the Prime Minister has announced a package of measures which are aimed at raising the standard of care provided by health services.  Alongside measures such as improved training for dementia carers and a defined career pathway for care assistants comes a vision for strengthening district nursing.

The attention grabbing element of this new package is the introduction of a “friends and family” test which will encourage patients to report back on hospitals.  Designed to be in place from April 2013 the test will then be gradually rolled out over the rest of the health service.

The measures have been broadly welcomed by health bodies with the NHS Confederation chief executive, Mike Farrar, saying that “we have got to ensure that a culture of compassion is running through the veins of every place that provides care, no ifs, no buts and no exceptions.”  But whilst greater training and a renewed emphasis on care and compassion is a major step forward, there still remains the twin challenge of providing patient care whilst coping with the day to day paper work and interruptions.

A survey of social care workers in 2012 revealed that just 15% of time was spent in face to face meetings with clients with the rest of the time taken up with paperwork, phone calls, travelling and other meetings.  If that figure were to be reflected across the health sector then there is precious little time available for patient care.

This time challenge is one which is not simply confined to those working in the NHS, but is also a problem for those providing other health services such as physiotherapy and osteopathy.  For them, every minute spent on paperwork and answering calls is a non-earning minute which is spent away from patient care.  This is where the services of a virtual receptionist can make a difference. With calls being diverted to a virtual receptionist the clinician can concentrate on providing treatments.

With diary management and patient records also being taken care of, the percentage of time spent on patient care can soar.  More time means the ability to provide full treatments to more patients; it means less of the “next please” and more holistic treatment of the person not just the symptoms.  In short more time means that clinicians can step up to the culture of compassion demanded and in the process help to take health services to the next level.

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