'Do not disturb' signs taken off Kent nurses' tabards

Nurse wearing tabard The tabards are worn during three daily 30-minute drugs rounds

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The words "do not disturb" are to be removed from tabards worn by nurses on drug rounds at a hospital in Kent.

The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate introduced the red tabards to stop nurses being distracted while handing out medications.

Critics of the tabards said they could stop some patients approaching staff.

A spokesman for the East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "We realise that the three words do not disturb are open to misinterpretation."

He continued: "We have decided to keep the tabards, but as this scheme is mainly aimed at visitors and other staff we are taking off the words do not disturb.

"There were around 600 errors last year during drug rounds within the the trust's three main hospitals, 85% of these were no-harm errors."

'Wrong message'

The do not disturb tabards are worn during three daily drugs rounds, each lasting about 30 minutes, on two wards at the Margate hospital.

Joyce Robbins, from the campaign group Patient Concern, said: "It gives out the wrong message, it's not meant to do this but it actually says 'don't bother me, I'm too important'.

"If patients have interrupted you on these rounds that's because their needs have not been met."

Penny Searle, a ward manager at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital, said: "I understand that nurses need to communicate well and be caring and passionate and empathetic, this is not what this is about, it's actually designated time with that individual."

The East Kent Hospital NHS Foundation Trust runs the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the Kent and Canterbury and the William Harvey in Ashford.

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