Ward rounds must be a key part of hospital routine
Clinical staff, managers, and hospital executives must all work together to improve the quality of ward rounds in a continually evolving, complex NHS system.
According to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN)’s new joint statement, titled ‘Ward rounds in medicine: Principles for best practice’, ward rounds ought to be the cornerstone of patient care.
The clinical importance of ward rounds is often underestimated. They are key vehicles for coordinating care for hospital inpatients, delivering effective care, and building trust with patients.
Central to the effectiveness of the ward rounds is the involvement of nurses. Due to current pressures of capacity and staffing levels, ward rounds usually happen while nurses are otherwise engaged in constant care delivery. Doctors, therefore, have to go on ward rounds without other members of the multidisciplinary team.
Recent reports suggest a breakdown in the relationship between nurses and doctors. Also, the current system doesn’t allow them to gain a full understanding of a patient’s care needs. According to RCP and RCN guidance, reinstating ward rounds will facilitate the delivery of compassionate care, enabling doctors and nurses to plan for care jointly.
The guidance has been launched in order to ensure that there is a set standard of practice across all hospitals. The two bodies say ward rounds should become daily practice within the NHS, and need to become much more patient-orientated rather than task-orientated. It is the responsibility of all staff (including managers) to ensure that rounds remain a top priority.
The quality of rounds must improve through pre-round briefing and by ensuring that there is a nurse present during each round. Locally-adapted checklists should be used in order to reduce omissions, improve patient safety and strengthen multidisciplinary communication.
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Federation, said improving ward rounds could help in dealing with the growing number of patients who are older or have dementia.