Tuesday 15 February 2011
A new report published today by the Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham says the NHS is failing to treat older people with care, compassion, dignity and respect.
The report details the Ombudsman’s findings when investigating complaints relating to ten older patients and the findings show they suffered unnecessary pain, indignity, and distress whilst in the care of the NHS. Her investigations highlight common failures in pain control, discharge arrangements, communication with patients and their relatives and ensuring adequate nutrition.
The Ombudsman explains: ‘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 ten investigations covered in the report are not isolated cases. Of the nearly 9,000 properly made complaints to the Ombudsman about the NHS last year, 18 per cent were about the care of older people. The Ombudsman accepted twice as many cases for investigation about older people as for all other age groups put together.
The Ombudsman concludes: ‘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. I know from my caseload that in many cases, the answer must be “yes”. The NHS must close the gap between the promise of care and compassion outlined in its Constitution and the injustice that many older people experience. Every member of staff, no matter what their job, has a role to play in making the commitments of the Constitution a felt reality for patients.’
Click here to read Care and Compassion? The full report of the Ombudsman’s findings.