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Patients Association response to the Health Service Ombudsman report

Commenting on the report, Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association said:


“Yet another damning report, this time from the Ombudsman confirming what we at the Patients Association already know. How many reports do we have to have before anything will change and patients will stop suffering?

The Patients Association released our “Listen to patients, Speak up for change” report last December which highlighted 17 cases of serious failings of hospital care of older patients from across the NHS.

After this release, our Helpline was swamped with calls from patients and their relatives from across the country detailing similar cases of poor care at the hands of the NHS.

The report from the Ombudsman highlights what we already know – that the NHS is failing our most vulnerable patients and failing to provide them with even the basics of care.

If we haven’t got these basics of care sorted by now, how will the NHS cope as it faces the pressure of having to find £20 billion of savings by 2014 at the same time as undergoing a massive restructure?

Will elderly patients suffer further as we are left with fewer resources and fewer nurses on our wards?

Every day at the Patients Association we hear story after story from older patients phoning our Helpline telling us that they are:

* Being left hungry and thirsty
Suffering in pain without adequate pain relief

* Suffering the indignity of being told to soil themselves in their bed

* Leaving hospital without the right support systems in place to help them once they are back in the community


The situation is completely unacceptable. The NHS should always get these basic patient needs right. There isn’t an on cost to this – it is an entitlement that every individual has a right to. Attitudes need to change – older patients need to be treated with respect and compassion, not as an inconvenience.

It is a sick joke that we have an NHS constitution that tells us what rights we have when being treated by the NHS – but it is clear that to the majority of older patients it is not worth the paper it is written on.

We put our cards on the table back in December when we asked for independent matrons to be introduced onto the wards so that they could check every patient was receiving the essential standards of care. We believe this will make a real difference to patients and cut through the bureaucracy and targets, and focus on making sure patients are treated with respect and their basic needs are met.

But to this day we are still getting letters that talk about appalling standards of care as detailed in this report. When is it going to stop? The CQC with the current resources available cannot embark on this huge mission on its own. The GMC and NMC have a duty to play. We are concerned that due to financial pressures, healthcare assistants are doing the work that used to be done by trained qualified nurses.

Those treating patients must be trained to the highest standards and have received the necessary training to do the job – otherwise how can standards be maintained? The Patients Association remain concerned that future policies such as Healthwatch are ill conceived and will not deliver for older patients.

The Government made a commitment to introduce independent matrons back in December….but we are still waiting for this to happen.”

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