Jeanette Whyman, a partner and head of medical negligence with Wright Hassall, is calling for a back-to-basics approach to help protect elderly vulnerable patients, as part of a national event which aims to change the NHS for the better.

Jeanette is campaigning for patients’ relatives to have easy access to a simple check-list which will help identify whether basic but vital care procedures are being missed in hospitals and care homes.

The move comes as part of the NHS led ‘Change Day’ on Wednesday 11th March which encourages new ideas aimed at improving patient care.

The law firm’s initiative, which it hopes will be adopted by hospitals and care home facilities across Warwickshire and beyond, has been named the ‘CARE’ Check List .

The idea came about partly because of the growing number of very sad medical claims I deal with but also as a result of my own Mum’s stay in hospital and the personal frustration I faced trying to flag up my concerns to staff.

Jeanette Whyman Medical Negligence Partner

“Whilst there’s no doubt that doctors and nurses do some fantastic life-changing work, the fact remains that if they don’t get the basics right – things such as making sure the patient is eating enough, drinking enough, being kept clean etc – then chances are they are not going to make such a good or quick recovery.

“So called ‘revolving door’ patients who repeatedly find themselves in and out of hospital as a result of their first admission not being properly handled, are not only a drain on NHS resources but also cause untold pain and heartache to patients and relatives alike.

“We came up with the idea of a CARE checklist because the challenges of a busy ward, means that sometimes ‘the obvious’ gets missed despite the best efforts of the doctors and nurses.

“Often a vulnerable elderly patient is unable to communicate their needs and it then falls to a visiting relative or friend to voice concerns on their behalf.

“The natural thing to do is to flag the problem with a nurse or the ward sister, but what if the nurses on duty are tending to an emergency elsewhere or you simply feel too embarrassed to confront someone face to face and make a fuss.’”

Jeanette continued: “If a ‘CARE’ checklist was made available at the bottom of every elderly patient’s bed, we believe it could make a real, positive difference to their welfare. A relative could fill in the form, flagging issues that they were concerned about and this would then form part of the patient’s official hospital care record with space available to confirm which staff member has seen and remedied the problem.

“Any hospital which embraces feedback of this kind is making a very positive public statement that they care about patient welfare and welcomes any opportunity to improve the care they offer.

“Rather than being defensive and locked into a blame culture, I firmly believe that hospitals have a desire to learn lessons and change for the better. This is what NHS Change Day is all about. 
“As part of our campaign for change I will be writing to the hospital trusts and a number of care homes which serve our region, encouraging them to implement a ‘CARE’ style checklist.”

Members of the public can also do their bit by adding their supporting for the initiative via Twitter, Facebook or by clicking  ”Do you CARE?"

About the author

Jeanette Whyman Partner

Jeanette is head of the medical negligence team. Having worked previously for Hospital Trusts, Jeanette has extensive knowledge of hospital practices and procedures. This means that she is able to assess a case speedily and to anticipate the other parties' position – this enables her to put forward the best possible case on behalf of her client.