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Patients 'should have named doctor'
Every hospital patient should have a named doctor taking responsibility for their care, leading medics have said.
The so-called "name above the bed" initiative will mean that patients, and their relatives and carers will know which doctor is ultimately responsible for all aspects of their care , the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) said.
New guidance from the AMRC says that e very patient should be provided with the names of a responsible consultant and nurse during their stay.
It is understood that around 40% of hospitals in England provide patients with such details but health officials want to see the initiative rolled out across the board.
The Government said it would introduce the measure as part of its response to the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry.
Probes into the scandal revealed that poor care could have led to the deaths of hundreds of patients as a result of maltreatment and neglect. Many were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.
Inquiry chair Robert Francis QC said that if a named clinician were accountable throughout a patient's treatment in hospital then patient safety and the overall quality of care could be improved, an AMRC spokesman said.
As well as giving more accountability to doctors the guidance also says that a "named nurse" should always be available to be a primary point of contact and provide patients with information about their care.
The Care Quality Commission will consider whether or not the measure has been implemented when they inspect hospitals, a Department of Health spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile the General Medical Council (GMC) has issued new guidance to support doctors in taking up the measure.
The AMRC was tasked to develop the guide by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
"Patients tell us that, too often, their care isn't joined up," Mr Hunt said.
"That's why every patient should have a single responsible clinician whose job it is to help them with anything that goes wrong and make sure they get the care they need.
"This guidance will make that a reality - it has been developed by clinicians, for clinicians, and is a huge step forward for patient safety. I am very grateful to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges for their work which will help to make sure patients experience the best care during their hospital stay."
Professor Terence Stephenson, chair of the Academy, added: "Doctors recognise that we need to have clear lines of responsibility when it comes to the way patients are treated during their stay in hospital.
"Some hospitals have already implemented a 'name over the bed' process and where they have, patients say they have more confidence that someone is taking overall responsibility for them. They also know who to go to if they have questions or if they think something needs to be done differently.
"This is vital if we are to drive up standards of care and continue to safeguard patient safety."
Professor Sir Peter Rubin, chair of council at the GMC said: " Being in hospital can be a worrying experience for many and this new role should provide reassurance to patients and their families across England that there is someone overseeing their hospital journey.
"We want to do what we can to support doctors who are taking on this new role and this is why we have produced a helpful guide which pulls together our existing guidance which we hope doctors will find useful."