Elderly patients in UK hospitals are being subjected to appalling standards of care, according to a report by the Patients Association.
The catalogue of abuse, highlighted in 16 cases, detail the neglect of the elderly, including cases where patients have been left starving or without pain relief.
The report also details cases whereby patients’ families have been forced to care for their loved ones, as NHS staff were “too busy”.
“Patients are being left sat on their own faeces and urine,” Angela Rippon, vice president of the Patients Association, told Sky News. “It’s unbelievable,” she added.
The dossier records the continuing decline in standards of care, despite government promises that NHS hospitals would improve.
Health secretary Andy Burnham said the report highlighted “age discrimination’ within the health service, while the head of the charity said it “shamed everyone involved”.
Liz Kendall, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said the problems were partly due to pressures on the NHS, including "increases in demand, squeezed resources, and more very sick elderly patients ending up in hospital".
"This report reveals yet more examples of vulnerable patients being denied basic standards of care that we would all expect for our elderly relatives. Such appalling treatment is unacceptable. NHS services that are falling short must be brought up to the standards of the best," she added.
Cases highlighted in the report, include:
- Helena Grimwood, whose daughter claims that her mother was left “desperately thirsty” as no one would help her take on fluids during her time at Southend University Hospital.
- Sally Abbott-Sienkiewicz who was left in “horrendous” pain suffering from terminal cancer without pain relief when admitted to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.
- William Wood who was admitted to hospital with swine flu. His wife told of how he pushed the emergency button because he was having trouble breathing but had to wait 15 minutes for assistance. Mr Wood collapsed and died following his release from York District Hospital.
Alongside the sixteen cases, the Patients Association also recorded a 37% increase in the calls to its hotline in 2011.
“In the 21st century, in one of the most developed countries and health systems in the world, patients should not be left starving or thirsty, they shouldn’t be left in pain, and they shouldn’t be left to defecate or urinate in their beds because the nurse designated to them says it’s easier to change the sheets later than to help them to the toilet now,” said Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association.
“These sixteen are the tip of the iceberg. It’s not always a problem of finance but a problem of attitude,” said Rippon.
“Nurses need university degrees, but you can’t get a university degree in compassion.”
“This should not be happening.”
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