Hospitals are to trial a new system that will help identify when elderly patients are being neglected by care homes, according to the Department of Health.
By making it possible for NHS staff to record signs of poor care, such as bedsores, the flagging system will act as a “early warning” for unsatisfactory standards in residential homes.
Calls for a Present on Admission (POA) flag emerged after it was found that hospital trusts were unable to deduce whether bedsores had occurred before or after patients were admitted. The new system will also be used to record other pre-existing conditions, injuries, infections and indicators of neglect.
The system is expected to be finalised by autumn, according to Minister of State for Health Services, Simon Burns MP. It will be followed a period of pilot data capture by 10-12 NHS trusts but hospitals are already being instructed by the Department of Health to collect POA information using existing systems, after healthcare experts called for an “interim solution”.
The introduction of the flagging system comes as a result of a campaign launched by healthcare information service, Dr Foster Intelligence. After analysing data around bedsores, its researchers found that hospital trusts could not tell who was responsible for the condition.
In a co-signed letter to the Daily Telegraph in January 2012, a group of health professionals, including the heads of the Care Quality Commission and the Royal College of Nursing, called on the Department of Health to use the POA system to give “a clearer picture of both the quality of social and hospital care”.
Speaking about the campaign, Dr Foster Intelligence’s Director of Research, Roger Taylor, said: “When it is unclear where neglect is occurring then very little can be done to prevent it, but the POA flag makes both hospitals and care homes accountable for the welfare of elderly patients.
“This problem would never have emerged if we hadn’t spotted holes in NHS trusts’ data, which is a compelling argument in favour of complete transparency within the health service.”
Speaking about the POA flag, Simon Burns MP said: We strongly support any developments that will help patients receive a better quality of care and treatment in hospital. We are working with hospitals to try and establish how we could test the present on admission flag.”
Notes to editors:
For interview with Director of Research, Roger Taylor, further information or a copy of the letter from Simon Burns MP to Dr Foster, please contact Oscar Holland on 020 7232 4672 or 077 5224 8561 (out of hours)
About Dr Foster
Dr Foster (www.drfosterintelligence.co.uk) is the leading provider of healthcare information solutions in England – and increasingly, worldwide. Its innovative products, services and resources enable both providers and commissioners of healthcare to benchmark and monitor the quality and efficiency of health services. And, through drfosterhealth.co.uk, it empowers patients to make informed choices about their care.
Dr Foster Intelligence is a joint venture with the Department of Health. It continues to fund, through a research grant, the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London, which has developed pioneering methodologies that enable fast, accurate identification of potential problems in clinical performance and also in areas of high achievement.
Dr Foster Intelligence works to a code of conduct which is monitored by an independent Ethics Committee chaired by Professor Alan Maynard, director of the Health Policy Unit at York University.