Yesterday’s appalling report on the treatment of a number of patients in Stafford Hospital where elderly patients were left without food or water in filthy conditions is a national scandal. The treatment, or lack of it, led to hundreds and possibly 1,000’s of unnecessary deaths. Patients were having to drink filthy water from flower vases.
The author of the 3 000-page report, lawyer Robert Francis, said: “This is a story of appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people.They were failed by a system which ignored the warning signs and put corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of patients and their safety.Elderly and vulnerable patients were left unwashed, unfed and without fluids. They were deprived of dignity and respect. Some patients had to relieve themselves in their beds when they were offered no help to get to the bathroom,”
He said some patients were left in excrement-stained sheets and some who could not eat or drink without help did not receive it. Medicines were prescribed but not given. “Many will find it difficult to believe that all this could occur in an NHS hospital,” he said. Francis described a culture of secrecy and defensiveness in which whistle-blowers were silenced and bereaved relatives who asked questions were ignored.
Five other hospitals with a greater than expected mortality rate are now to be investigated: Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust (FT); Tameside Hospital NHS FT; Blackpool Teaching Hospitals FT; Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS FT; and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.
In addition Queen’s Hospital, Romford is facing legal action by the relatives of 9 patients who allege that the treatment received at each hospital amounted to a breach of their relatives human rights and in some cases, may have contributed to their deaths. And Queens is already being monitored by the Care Quality Commission. In a recent report it said that there were:
- Long waiting times in Accident and Emergency
- Patients being nursed on trolleys, due to a lack of available beds
- A and E is understaffed in relation to the influx of patients
- A lack of personal washing and storage facilities
In the past the NHS has rightly been the envy of the world but over the last few years when every thing has been target orientated some parts have fallen well below the high standards of the past. The financing of the rebuilding of hospitals under PFI has caused many hospital trusts to be in a very precarious financial position.leading them to become finance orientated rather than patient orientated. It must be a matter which requires immediate action so that we can, once again, have a health service, second to none.