Patients Association Finds Poor Care in the NHS

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The Patients association has found a series of “appalling” examples of poor care in the NHS across the UK. Examples include occasions where patients have been neglected, left in pain and without food and water.

The Patients Association said patients are being let down and action was needed when poor care was identified. The organisation identified bad communication, lack of help going to the toilet, access to pain relief and nutrition as underlying concerns.

Instances of poor care include a dementia patient who was admitted to hospital with meningitis in April. The 74-year-old was placed on a dementia-friendly ward and staff were told to check on him every 15 minutes. However, he managed to escape and was found drowned in a nearby stream. He had been recovering well from meningitis at the time.

Other examples included patients having a “do not resuscitate order” placed on them without proper discussion with their families. The chief executive of the Patients Association Katherine Murphy said “the sad conclusion of this report is that still too many patients are being shockingly let down by the NHS every day. These appalling and tragic cases serve to highlight the devastating consequences when poor practice is left unchallenged and unchanged. Behind each one are many more unheard voices. Whilst there is a lot to be proud of about the NHS, including the overwhelming majority of staff who are skilled and hard-working, these cases are a tragic wake-up call.”

Publication of the case studies, which principally focused on hospital care, comes ahead of the release of a report by the Care Quality Commission tomorrow into how many NHS trusts are failing essential standards. The CQC said it had been working with the Patients Association to tap into the problems that were being reported to them. A spokesman said “we all need to make sure that experiences like this are listened to and acted on so that people’s care improves.”

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents trusts, said “the stories in this report are shocking and deeply distressing. There is no-one working in the NHS who will not feel saddened by what these patients and their carers have gone through. Our purpose is to care and we need to take responsibility for the issues that really matter to the people who use our services. We should never excuse poor standards of care and we need to take bold and decisive action when we see it happening.”

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Peter Carter, he said “this is completely unacceptable and every healthcare professional must act promptly to raise concerns if staffing levels or other pressures get in the way of delivering good patient care.”

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