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Patients Association response to CQC's State of Care Report

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association commented on the CQC’s State of Healthcare and Adult Social Care in England Report saying,

“We welcome the improvements that have been made by health services as detailed in The state of healthcare and adult social care in England but it is clear that we still have a long way to go to ensure that ALL patients receive the same high quality care they deserve. For all service providers that are improving, there are still too many who are failing and there is little excuse for that failure. We have seen countless reports stating that many Trusts, hospitals and care homes are not up to scratch and putting patients’ safety and wellbeing at risk.

Lack of information continues to be a pressing problem with 40% of patients being sent home from hospital without being told what “danger signals” they should look out for and 45% not being told about side effects from medication. This is unacceptable. Patients need to know that when they return home from hospital after treatment, what might go wrong and what the side effects of medication might be. The fact that so many are not getting this information shows that the NHS is not putting patients in control of their own healthcare as they should.

Mental health services are suffering from poor staffing and overcrowding putting patients at risk and it is deeply worrying that black and minority ethnic groups are overrepresented in mental health wards. We urge the Department of Health to make more strident efforts to ensure that these health inequalities, particularly when related to vulnerable patients, are addressed so that all patients, regardless of their background, receive the support and help they need to live their lives in safety and dignity.

Elderly patients are being readmitted to hospital too often with the rate of those over 75 readmitted to hospital rising by 4% in the last year. Patients who do not receive effective community support are more likely to be readmitted and it is clear that they are not getting the support they need. With local authority budgets being slashed across the board, will they be able to improve on this or will it become a downward spiral?

While we welcome the general improvements in safety and cleanliness, we are still deeply concerned by the number of reported safety incidents, with 1.19 million reports made to the National Patient Safety Agency, an increase of 18% from the previous year. We recognise that part of this increase has come from better reporting, but the figure is still disappointing and alarming.

We frequently hear reports on our Helpline from patients who have been put at risk and in our recent report, Listen to Patients, Speak up for Change, which detailed 17 cases of truly appalling care, we called for independent matrons whose sole role would be to ensure that every patient received the essentials of care and that they were treated safely and with dignity. What we got were increased inspections which will more than likely tell us what we already know, that some hospitals and care homes are failing to care for vulnerable patients. Why will the Government not act and introduce independent matrons who can drive up the safety and quality of care in hospitals to protect patients? We urge the Department of Health and the CQC to take urgent action to prevent these mistakes from continuing and ensure that the NHS has the resources to make the changes to provide real improvements for all patients.”


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