Over 100 people were present at Ashford (Middlesex) Hospital to hear Chief Nursing Officer for England, Christine Beasley set out the future of clinical benchmarking and standard setting for the NHS. Speaking to an audience of 100 health care staff from acute and community Trusts from across the south-east she encouraged individuals to never hang back but to go forward and make a difference.

She said: “Leadership is critical to the quality of care patients receive. The science of modern medicine is the best the world has ever seen and will continue to improve rapidly. However there is much that we can do to improve healthcare performance and service. We need to ask ourselves ‘how do we not only get it right for every patient, every time, but also make ‘rightness’ transparent to a range of people’. We must make sure that the ‘Essence of Care’ programme is at the centre of the care provided for every patient.”

The Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) is the Government's most senior nursing adviser. The CNO has responsibility for delivering the Government's strategy for nursing, ‘Making a Difference’, and leads over 597,625 nurses, midwives and health visitors and allied health professionals. Most recently she has been charged with leading the Department of Health’s initiatives on infection control and cleaning.

Outlining lessons learnt from the ‘Essence of Care Programme’, Mrs Beasley highlighted areas including:

  • Leadership - clear and credible at all levels providing ongoing support and encouragement
  • Teamwork - valuing the contribution of all and working co-operatively
  • KISS - keep it simple and don’t lose sight of the small things that often make the most difference
  • Maintain momentum - build ‘Essence of Care’ into job descriptions and make it everybody’s business
  • Feedback - making sure the benefits are visible to staff and patients with recognition of effort and success.

John Lancaster MBE, National Director of the Essence of Care Programme praised Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals for its progress on the Essence of Care Communications benchmark and for the success of the Trust’s ‘Patient’s Panel’. He said: “It is important that we celebrate the success we have had with the ‘Essence of Care’ programme. Every step forward on the programme is a service improvement for patients and visitors, however small and however inconsequential we may believe it to be. At Ashford & St. Peter’s I know that your communication benchmarking work has been excellent and you have a very good Patient’s Panel.”

'The Essence of Care' programme was launched in 2001 and was designed to support measures to improve quality across the NHS. The programme has contributed to the introduction of clinical governance at a local level in the NHS on which Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals have taken a major lead. The benchmarking process outlined in 'The Essence of Care' helps practitioners to take a structured approach to sharing and comparing practice, enabling them to identify the best and to develop action plans to remedy poor practice.

Glenn Douglas, Chief Executive at Ashford & St. Peter’s said: “At Ashford and St. Peter’s we were one of the first newly merged acute hospital Trusts to achieve national (CNST) clinical standards and we have taken a lead on developing and implementing the ‘Essence of Care’ programme. We were very pleased that Chief Nurse Christine Beasley and ‘Essence of Care’ Programme Director John Lancaster were able to join us at this important conference.”


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