2 December 2010

The NHS - envy of the world

The Patients' Association today released Listen to patients, Speak up for change (pdf here), a collection of firsthand accounts of hospital care of older patients from across the NHS detailing serious failings in standards of nursing care, poor communication with relatives and an ineffective complaints handling system.

Patients Association President Claire Rayner, who died earlier this year, was quoted as saying "Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him!" Her son wrote the foreword this year and reports that she died angry at the inhumane treatment she sometimes received from nurses and doctors.
As she said time and again if even she, with her public profile, reputation for straight talking and acute knowledge of the mechanics of nursing and medicine could not get the treatment she was entitled to, what hope was there for others?
"Let the haunting begin", said her widower, as though Cameron were responsible for the deplorable standards of care in the NHS after a decade of having money fire-hosed at it. For that matter why, given her "acute knowledge of the mechanics of nursing and medicine", did it come as a shock to Claire herself that the NHS treats the dying elderly as "bed blockers"?

Patients' Association 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.

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