Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Proof at last
Since raising the matter on my blog I’ve also had a few abusive posts from NHS supporters or people who work for our health service, but the truth remains that some of our elderly are treated worse than animals when admitted to some of our hospitals. There is an endemic culture in some sectors of the NHS that sees the elderly as simply not worth saving or worthy of dignified and caring treatment.
Fortunately, at last, the establishment is grudgingly admitting the truth. The Health Service Ombudsman has published a report today that says the reasonable expectation that an older person or their family may have of dignified, pain-free end of life care in clean surroundings in hospital is not being fulfilled. NHS provision is failing to meet even the most basic standards of care.
It goes on to say: “These often harrowing accounts should cause every member of NHS staff who reads this report to pause and ask themselves if any of their patients could suffer in the same way.”
According to the Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, the patients in the ten cases that she studied had all been loving, active people of a generation that didn’t like to make a fuss. She goes on: “They had simply wanted to be cared for properly and die peacefully – but they all suffered unnecessary pain, indignity and distress while in the care of the NHS. As a result, they were transformed from alert and able individuals to people who were dehydrated, malnourished or unable to communicate.”
Shocking examples of lapses in care contained in the report include:
• An 82 year-old who died alone because staff did not realise her husband had been waiting to see her for three hours.
• A woman was not washed during 13 weeks in hospital, did not have her wound dressings changed and was denied food and drink.
• A woman who was discharged from hospital covered in bruises, soaked in urine and wearing someone else’s clothes.
• The life-support system of a heart attack victim was switched off despite his wife asking to leave it on while she contacted the rest of the family.
In response to the report, Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “It is of course important to put these 10 examples in perspective. The NHS sees over a million people every 36 hours and the overwhelming majority say they receive good care. But I fully appreciate that this will be of little comfort to patients and their families when they have been on the receiving end of poor care.”
He still doesn’t really get it, does he?