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Good care mustnít be overshadowed by bad practice, RCN says

Published: 27 August 2009

Examples of poor care in the NHS are 'completely unacceptable', but they must not be allowed to overshadow the vast majority of good quality healthcare given to millions of patients everyday. Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) responded as the Patients Association today (27 August) published a report on patients' experiences in hospital. Dr Carter also expressed concern that public confidence in the NHS could be undermined by the examples cited. He said:

"The level of care described by these families is completely unacceptable, and we will not condone nurses who behave in ways that are contrary to the principles and ethics of the profession. However we believe that the vast majority of nurses are decent, highly skilled individuals. This is reflected in the fact that last survey of patients by the Care Quality Commission found that over 90 per cent rated the care they received as good, very good or excellent.

"This report is based on the two per cent of patients who feel that their care was unacceptable. Two per cent is too many but we are concerned that this might undermine the public's confidence in the world-class care they can expect to receive from the NHS. Furthermore it could also dampen the morale of the millions of staff who work tirelessly to help their patients.

"Patients and families who feel that care is substandard must raise concerns as near as possible to the time of the incidents in order to allow for proper investigation. Sadly, it is very difficult to rectify bad examples of care weeks or months after the event. Everyone in the NHS must remain focussed on care, compassion and empathy - NHS and nursing values - in order to improve the quality of care for patients."

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Notes for Editors

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RCN Media Office on 0207 647 3633, press.office@rcn.org.uk or visit http://www.rcn.org.uk/newsevents/media

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is the voice of nursing across the UK and is the largest professional union of nursing staff in the world. The RCN promotes the interest of nurses and patients on a wide range of issues and helps shape healthcare policy by working closely with the UK Government and other national and international institutions, trade unions, professional bodies and voluntary organisations.