PERFORMANCE: Nurses at the foundation trust were falling below five out of nine internally-set care quality targets at the end of November, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show.

It scores nursing care in its wards against nine performance indicators, covering areas including pain management, falls assessments, and privacy and dignity. Scores of 95 per cent meet the foundation’s standard, scores of less than 92 per cent are rated “red”.

At the end of November, nurses performance against five of those indicators was rated red, or significantly below standard, for the year to date. The lowest year-to-date score was for the foundation’s measure of patient observations, at just 83.5 per cent.

By division, nurses in the surgical division showed the best performance, with year-to-date scores above 95 per cent for all but two indicators.

Nurses in the medicine division fared worst, with failing year-to-date scores against six indicators, including those with the titles: falls assessment, food and nutrition, healthy hospitals, infection prevention and control, patient observations, and pressure area care.

The Nursing Quality Outcomes report, which was released to HSJ this week under FOI, said the vacancy rate within the division was at the equivalent of 14 full time nurses at that point.

It added: “A daily metric has been instigated for daily Matron Ward visits to measure the safety  factors to provide better performance management of all areas.

“A meeting is planned with the director of nursing and evidence will be provided at these meeting from ward managers to the director of nursing to demonstrate actions to improve such poor results.”

A statement issued to HSJ by the foundation trust said the minimum 92 per cent standards it set for its nursing quality outcome measures were “aspirational and demonstrate our commitment to continuing improvement”.

It continued: “From September 2010 the audit process was more vigorously applied and responsibility moved to our Quality and Safety Matrons in a drive to further enhance performance.  This was a planned change designed to increase scrutiny and challenge in the process and so a reduction was anticipated. 

“During this dip in reported measures the Trust found no evidence of a reduction relating to patient outcome measures.

“The trust’s performance has since improved considerably and in January 2011 there were six greens and only two reds in the ward-to-board report. This improvement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to provide high quality and safe care to our patients and to never be complacent about our performance.”