[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 1 Issue 12, July 2011].
According to a further report from the Health Service Ombudsman, Care and compassion?, the NHS is still failing to treat elderly patients in England with care, dignity and respect. This report follows an in-depth review of 10 cases (far from isolated examples), and shows how patients aged over 65 too often suffer unnecessary pain, neglect and distress.
Of nearly 9,000 complaints made to the ombudsman last year, 18% were about the care of older people. The ombudsman accepted 226 cases for investigation, i.e. twice as many as for all the other age groups combined. Half the people featured did not receive adequate food or water during their time in hospital. Others were left in soiled clothing. Poor discharge procedures and general standards of care were also highlighted. Quotation:
“A person’s physical illness may be compounded by a difficulty with communication or by dementia. Inattention to the suffering of older people is characteristic of the stories in this report.
The difficulties encountered by the service users and their relatives were not solely a result of illness, but arose from the dismissive attitude of staff, a disregard for process and procedure and an apparent indifference of NHS staff to deplorable standards of care”.
The government admits that improvements are needed. Spot checks on care of elderly patients in NHS hospitals, many of whom suffer from dementia, will commence imminently.
Details of the full report are shown below:
Abraham, A. (2011). Care and compassion? Report of the Health Service Ombudsman on ten investigations into NHS care of older people. (Fourth report of the Health Service Commissioner for England, Session 2010-2011. Presented to Parliament pursuant to Section 14(4) of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993). London: The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, February 2011.