Inspectors have given a clean bill of health to Liberton Hospital after the first of a new generation of inspections to be carried out in the Lothians.
Health chiefs had feared the new style of inspection, in which doctors are observed treating patients, would be intrusive and could result in conclusions being drawn from a small number of observations.
Previously, hospital inspections focused only on cleanliness and infection prevention rather than patient care.
But in the wake of the inspection, NHS Lothian said it was happy with the way it had been carried out.
Inspectors from Healthcare Improvement Scotland visited the hospital, which specialises in medicine for the elderly, in December, looking at four wards – admissions, two general rehabilitation wards, and stroke/rehabilitation.
The visit to Liberton was a test inspection to try out the methodology, style and processes of the new system. It is expected to be rolled out to other hospitals in the Lothians in due course.
Melanie Hornett, nurse director for NHS Lothian, said: “The care of older people is a top priority for NHS Lothian and we are committed to continually improving standards.
“When these new inspections were introduced, Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) carried out test inspections to allow inspectors to refine their processes and NHS Lothian was happy with the manner in which these were carried out.”
Inspectors said they had “observed a number of examples of positive caring behaviour from staff to patients”, and said that patients “were satisfied with the care they received”.
Some areas for improvement were identified. NHS Lothian was told it should review the time taken for staff to answer some call bells, particularly for patients in side rooms.
It was also advised to improve some of the information available on the ward, for example putting up notices to alert families to the fact they were welcome to come in and assist their relative at meal times.
Ms Hornett said: “We take all constructive comments seriously and were pleased with the positive feedback in all areas.”
Susan Brimelow, chief inspector of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said the findings of the inspection would be used to improve future inspections as they are rolled out across the country.
“The programme of inspections were requested by Scottish Government to provide assurance that the care of older people in acute hospitals is of a high standard,” she said.
“To be sure that we had a robust inspection methodology that would be effective in identifying how well care was being delivered, we carried out a number of test inspections. One of these test inspections was carried out at Liberton Hospital in NHS Lothian.
“The test inspection was extremely helpful to us in providing an additional opportunity to refine our processes and we are grateful to the staff at Liberton Hospital for the support that we received. One element of our inspections involves observing interactions between staff and patients – these observations have yielded a wealth of meaningful information, and we continue to be mindful that such observations need to be conducted sensitively. Thus far we have published three reports looking at the care of older people in acute hospitals in Scotland and identified key changes that will improve patient care.”