Unions and staff at two west country NHS trust have ridiculed the requirement for nurses to carry out ‘chocolate audits’ of gifts given to staff by patients.
Each time a nurse at Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust or Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust receives a present from a grateful patient they are required to complete a form stating what it is, who it is from and how much it is worth.
But Howard Catton, head of policy at the Royal College of Nursing, said that keeping a long of gifts was “completely useless”.
“It’s about as useful as a chocolate teapot,” he said.
A spokesman for Unison union agreed.
“Nurses need to spend all their time available time with patients, carrying out their duties. They work exceptionally hard and that is the true measure of performance, not who decides to give them a box of Maltesers,” he said.
Managers at the trusts claim the audits provide a good indicator of patient satisfaction. However, the move has been criticised by staff representatives for increasing the administrative burden on employees.
Records in 2004-05 for Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust reveal that there were 8,000 gestures of gratitude, including gifts and letters, and just 316 complaints.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: “Such gestures are a good way of measuring patient satisfaction and receiving feedback. We also carry out patient surveys. It’s important staff know their efforts are appreciated by the public and it doesn’t take very long to carry out.”