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NHS failures on patients 'deeply distressing'

UK News | November 22, 2012


Ben Adams

NHS failures on patients 'deeply distressing'

NHS managers say that reports of poor care should be “cause for concern for anyone working in the health service”.

This comes as a new report from the Patients’ Association shares the negative stories from patients and their carers treated in the NHS in an attempt to better their care.

There have been a number of high-profile failing in NHS care, including the now notorious 2009 Healthcare Commission’s report that revealed “appalling standards of care” and higher-than-expected death rates at the Staffordshire Hospital.

These sort of stories have caught the attention of the mainstream media, but the PA’s report, ‘Stories from the present, lessons for the future’ catalogues 13 personal accounts from patients or relatives who have experienced poor care in hospitals and care homes around the country, who otherwise might not have had a voice.

The report is a snapshot of the many stories of poor care heard by the Patients Association Helpline, and reflects wider shortcomings in the NHS, which require change in both Westminster and on hospital wards, according to the Association.

Patients’ stories

One of the stories revolves around Mr Bowman, who was admitted to hospital suffering with meningitis. He also had Alzheimer’s disease, but despite concerns from the family, a number of disappearances and a pledge from staff that they would check on him every 15 minutes, Mr Bowman went missing. He was later found drowned four miles downstream from the hospital.

The NHS Confederation’s chief executive Mike Farrar says the detail of the cases such as Mr Bowman’s are “deeply distressing”, and in a frank admission added that “bold and decisive action” needs to be taken to respond to poor standards of care.

Farrar said: “The stories in this report are shocking and deeply distressing. There is no-one working in the NHS who will not feel saddened by what these patients and their carers have gone through.

“Our purpose is to care and we need to take responsibility for the issues that really matter to the people who use our services. We should never excuse poor standards of care and we need to take bold and decisive action when we see it happening.”

“Improving dignified care is everyone's responsibility, from ward staff right up to board level. It starts by developing the right culture and leadership in an organisation, and that happens by management walking the wards on a regular basis, and by board members encouraging frank and honest feedback from patients and staff.”

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “The sad conclusion of this report is that still far too many patients are being shockingly let down by the NHS every day. These appalling and tragic cases serve to highlight the devastating consequences when poor practice is left unchallenged and unchanged. Behind each one are many more unheard voices.

“Whilst there is a lot to be proud of about the NHS, including the overwhelming majority of staff who are skilled and hard-working, these cases are a tragic wake-up call for those in Westminster as well as on hospital wards.”

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