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Issue 476, 4 February 2002

Healthcare first

A system of improving patient care within the health service, established first in Yorkshire in 1992 and now run nationwide, is about to see its first application in the United States. A team from the Centre for the Development of Nursing Policy and Practice at the University of Leeds is travelling to Louisville, Kentucky, to assess three hospital wards as part of the University's accreditation scheme.

Centre director Susan Hamer said: "We're especially pleased to be extending the reach of our programme to the United States. Our own health services are always being asked to learn from abroad. Now we have an example of our best practice being taken up by healthcare services overseas. We all face the same difficulties: bed shortages, recruitment, cleanliness to name but a few, and our programme equips staff to work as a team to tackle these problems, whether in the UK or the US."

The practice development unit (PDU) accreditation scheme focuses on patient care at the level of the multi-disciplinary unit or team – a hospital ward or hospice for example – as this is where the most significant improvements in quality of care can be made. Units taking part go through a two year development programme, involving coaching, workshops, and regular contact for advice and support, within a well-established evidence-based framework, to reach final accreditation as a PDU.

The programme involves staff at all levels within the unit, from cleaners and porters to consultants and managers, and aims improve leadership, problem-solving and team-working. The central goal at all times is to ensure higher quality of care for patients. The scheme is open to all healthcare professionals, whether in the NHS or the private sector and offers practitioners in the UK the opportunity to network best practice globally.

For further information, contact Susan Hamer – Practice Development Programme Director and Centre Co-ordinator, The Centre for the Development of Nursing Policy and Practice,, 0113 233 1384

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