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It is easy to despair of reports about poor care that results in patients enduring an unacceptable experience.
There was a flurry of them last week, when a coroner reported that negligence by medical and nursing staff contributed to the death of Kane Gorny at St George's Hospital in south London. The Care Quality Commission criticised staff at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay for failing to carry out basic checks. And research published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggests one in three deaths in English hospitals is associated with poor clinical monitoring.
These are not the first such reports and they will not be the last, which is why Nursing Standard has joined forces with the Patients Association to offer nurses and healthcare assistants support through our Care campaign. We want to work with our readers to ensure that patients' fundamental care is always the top priority for every healthcare provider.
The campaign began eight months ago and an impressive number of organisations have signed up. The challenge now is to ensure that this results in a genuine drive to improve the standard of care patients receive in hospitals, care homes and their own homes.
There are resources to help you on the Care campaign pages of our website - www.thecarecampaign.co.uk
The problem with public inquiries, Nursing and Midwifery Council misconduct hearings and inquests is that they come too late, after the damage has been done. The managers who were there at the time have often moved on, leaving their replacements to issue a brief apology and assurances that lessons have been learned. The statement issued by St George's is a classic of its kind, stressing that the death occurred three years ago, the trust is 'profoundly sorry' and that changes have been made to enhance patient safety.
The coroner said Mr Gorny's death from dehydration could have been avoided if the trust had ensured staff had told each other about his condition and acted to ensure he had enough to drink. A reassuring note is that the trust has endorsed our Care campaign, which means it has joined hundreds of others in making a public commitment to refocusing on the fundamentals of care.
Editorial | July 18 2012 | Vol 26 no 46