Elderly patients being failed by NHS

February 15, 2011 | by | 0 Comments

The NHS is failing to “recognise the humanity” of elderly patients, according to a damning report from a Health Service ombudsman.

Vulnerable patients are being treated without care, compassion, dignity and respect with dangerously underweight pensioners discharged from hospital in some cases.

In one shocking instance, a woman was even transferred to a care home in someone else’s soiled clothes which were held up by paper clips.

The saddening revelations have emerged after the release of the ‘Care and Compassion’ report from the Health Service ombudsman.

Based on the findings of ten independent investigations into complaints about NHS care for people over the age of 65 across England, the report tells harrowing stories of elderly people receiving poor treatment at the hands of the health service.

Issues highlighted such as dignity, healthcare associated infection, nutrition, discharge from hospital and personal care featured significantly more often in complaints about the care of older people.

One relative told the investigators: “Our dad was not treated as a capable man in ill health, but as someone whom staff could not have cared less whether he lived or died.”

Ombudsman Ann Abraham, who carried out the report, said: “The findings of my investigations reveal an attitude – both personal and institutional – which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality of the people concerned and to respond to them with sensitivity, compassion and professionalism.

“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.

“Instead, these accounts present a picture of NHS provision that is failing to meet even the most basic standards of care.”

The story of Mrs H, who was admitted to hospital after suffering a fall at home, is particularly disturbing.

Mrs H suffered further falls while in hospital and broke her collar bone – something her only relative wasn’t informed of.

She was later transferred by ambulance to a care home and when she arrived she had numerous injuries and was soaked with urine. The clothes she was wearing, which didn’t even belong to her, were held up with large paper clips.

The ombudsman deals with complaints that patients and relatives feel have not been properly dealt with by hospitals, GPs or other NHS services.

Off the 9,000 complaints made against the NHS last season 18 per cent were about the care of older people.

The health service ombudsman chose to investigate 226 cases concerning the elderly – more than twice as many as for all other age groups put together.

Caroline Bernard, deputy chief executive, Counsel and Care added: “This report makes distressing reading.

“Older people are the biggest users of NHS services, and we are very concerned that these sorts of reports are being repeated over and over again – such failings of care are unacceptable.

“Older people, as well as anyone using hospital services, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

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