NURSING stations are to be scrapped at Winchester's Royal Hampshire County Hospital in a bid to improve patient care.

Donna Green, chief operating officer and nursing director, said out-of-sight stations would be replaced with desks in the middle of patient bays.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) could be among the first to go down this route after a Government patients' tsar said nurses should be encouraged to spend less time talking and more time caring.

Labour MP Ann Clwyd was appointed by David Cameron in the wake of the mid-Staffordshire scandal. She said one area of concern was nursing stations where staff can gather to review patient records, make phone calls and have private conversations.

Mrs Clewyd suggested removing the stations completely and re-introducing desks in the middle of wards could have the effect of forcing more interaction with patients and higher standards of care.

Mrs Green said: “I think sometimes when patients and the public see nurses at the station they don't think they are doing any work which is not necessarily true but they can do that work at a desk in a bay and so there is additional observation of patients.

“I have wanted to do this refurbishment for some time.”

She added old-fashioned Nightingale wards had desks at the end of wards which patients could see and “they often felt more reassured.”

Meanwhile other planned improvements include more ensuite facilities. It is proposed every six-bedded bay should have it own toilet and shower.

The trust is spending £1m revamping wards in Winchester, Basingstoke and Andover hospitals this year and a similar amount could be earmarked next year.

But not everyone is in favour of getting rid of nurses' stations. Peter Carter, the head of the Royal College of Nursing, has previously said it was not practical to review case notes, work on a computer and answer the telephone in the middle of a ward.