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Shocking accounts of poor patient care released-Helpline appeal launched

The Patients Association has published - Listen to patients, Speak up for change - a collection of 17 firsthand accounts of hospital care of older patients from across the NHS.

The stories highlight serious failings in standards of nursing care, poor communication with relatives and an ineffective complaints handling system.

A follow up to last year’s Patients not numbers, People not statistics it’s publication marks the launch of a fundraising drive (supported by the Daily Mail) for the Patients Association Helpline as we try to deliver a more active support service. We are seeking to raise £100,000.
Patients Association President Claire Rayner, who passed away earlier this year, wrote the foreword for last years report and her son Jay Rayner writes the foreword this year in memory of Claire. Commenting on the launch of the report her husband, Des Rayner, said
“Let the haunting begin”
in reference to Claire’s famous last words ("Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him!").
Chief Executive Katherine Murphy said:
'Surely the essentials of nursing care are what every patient deserves and should get? The NHS should get this right all of the time. Lack of help with eating and drinking. Lack of help with personal hygiene. Lack of help with toileting needs. It is clear from the stories we hear on our Helpline that too many patients are being badly let down. It’s a scandal and it’s outrageous that has been persisting for years. Families are left with a life sentence of grief, with no lessons learnt and the same failings continuing.'
‘The fact this problem hasn’t been properly addressed before is a sad indictment of our society. If we continue to ignore the problem, then many millions of us will end up in a similar position in the years to come. We will regret not having spoken out. Every single one of us needs to say enough is enough.’
‘The people who wrote these stories were not asking for the earth. They just wanted their relatives to be cared for, to have their basic needs met, for staff to show their loved ones kindness and compassion. I think we’d all want that if we were in their shoes.’
'The NHS has tried to bring back matron, but is hasn't worked. That absolute commitment to patient care seems to get sidelined by targets, finances and bureaucracy. What we need is a matron who can ignore all of that. They can tell Trust managers, ‘forget your strategic framework and middle manager initiatives, it is meaningless if patients are not getting the vital nursing care they are entitled to.'
'We've been told for years that the NHS is listening to patients, but where is the proof? Complaints are not being listened to. That is a fundamental thing that needs to be put right. The whole complaints system needs to be reviewed urgently starting with surveys for complainants so we can find out where the really poor performers are.'
'Patients and carers need to be able to call on a real advocate when they complain, someone to fight their corner.'
‘When we published our report in 2009 we were inundated and ever since we have heard story after story after story. Our calls are going up and with the help of the Daily Mail readers we will try to make sure everyone who contacts us gets the help they need.’
Kieran Mullan from the Patients Association supported the story tellers during the difficult process of producing their accounts and commented:
'Their grief is palpable. Many of them feel guilty that the system disempowered them so thoroughly. Taking part in the report reminds them they are not alone, that it was not their fault. It is the system they were up against that is at fault.'
'It is vital that other people show the courage these people have shown because unless people speak out the problems will continue. It was a privilege to help them do this. We can't publish everyone's story, but everyone's story helps us to shout from the roof tops as loud as we possibly can.'
'When I took the stories and showed them to Claire last year she was upset and then she was angry. We know she would have been even more angry that these things are still happening. We should all be angry. This is our NHS run by our Government. The NHS exists to meet our needs and the needs of our families and friends. We shouldn't tolerate such abysmal failings. Our story tellers are speaking out. They are saying enough is enough. We all need to get behind them.’
On the plans for the Helpline, Michael Watson Helpline Manager said
We want the resources to help more individuals to make their voices heard locally. Whether that be writing letters to Trusts and MPs, putting them in touch with local patient groups, getting them expert advice. Anything we can do to help. At the moment we are limited to sign posting, helping people to help themselves. The need is just so great that we are determined to do more and we hope people can support us and donate to the appeal.’
To make a donation by cheque please send cheques to The Patients Association, PO Box 935, Harrow, Middlsex, HA1 3YJ.
To make a donation online please visit:



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