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Report shows failings in patient care

A report has highlighted 16 case studies of failings in the basic care of elderly patients in hospitals throughout England

A report, Patients not Numbers People, not Statistics, published by the Patients Association charity, has highlighted 16 case studies of failings in the basic care of elderly patients in hospitals throughout England. The Association points out the 'striking similarity' between these stories, in terms of a lack of 'basic nursing and domiciliary care'. Many describe patients left in soiled clothing and bedding, with some not receiving assistance needed to enable them to eat and drink. 

There are also a number of incidents where patients have fallen, while trying to walk unaided or because bed rails had been "forgotten", and of patients hurt by staff attempting to lift them alone or incorrectly. Some relate occasions when medical staff failed to show compassion. Poor communication, between hospitals and between staff within the same hospital is a recurrent problem. 

Writer and broadcaster Clare Raynor, president of the Patients Association and a former nurse, expresses her view in the forward: "I am sickened by what has happened to some parts of my profession of which I was so proud… even if they are only one or two per cent of the whole they should be identified and struck off the Register."

RCN chief executive Dr Peter Carter responded with a statement expressing concern that public confidence in the NHS could be undermined and staff morale could be affected by the report. "We believe that the vast majority of nurses are decent, highly skilled individuals. This is reflected in the fact that the last survey of patients by the Care Quality Commission found that over 90 per cent rated the care they received as good, very good or excellent."

Chief nursing officer, Chris Beasley, agreed that these cases were not representative but said that where there are failings, "we expect Trusts to take immediate action to investigate and ensure this does not happen again."

The Nursing and Midwifery Council released a statement reiterating that most nurses do care and strive to meet high standards, adding: "By working in partnership with employers and members of the public we'll be able hold to account those whose practice puts people at risk."

The Patients Association has called on the Care Quality Commission, the Department of Health, the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman and the National Patient Safety Agency to take the requisite action to review standards of care and improve the way complaints are processed.

27th August 2009

From: Healthcare

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