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NHS care lets down 'far too many patients'

Patients Association highlights poor care and communication

Louise Prime

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The NHS is still letting down "far too many patients" the Patients Association claims. It says its latest report indicates a culture of poor practice that must not be allowed to go unchallenged and unchanged.

The Patients Association’s fourth annual report, Stories from the present, lessons for the future, is published this morning. It gives 13 detailed accounts of poor care and communication that NHS patients have experienced, made by patients themselves or by their family, which the charity says ‘highlight shocking experiences of poor care that still scar the NHS’.

These examples include a man with dementia drowning after escaping from a ward on which he was supposed to be under close watch, vulnerable and immobile patients being left soiled and in pain, and a teenager with asthma who died – her parents reported that A&E staff first ignored her and then appeared unsure how to resuscitate her.

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.

“Of the relatives and patients who contact our Helpline most wish their experiences could have been different, but they all want to use their stories to influence policy makers. As we stand on the brink of the most radical shake up of the NHS in generations, a new culture of care with a commitment and priority from Trust Boards needs to be put at the heart of the health service, for those who do not appropriate action needs to happen.”

The charity says that it is working with NHS Trusts to spread best practice, encouraging hospitals and care homes to ‘focus on ensuring dignity and compassion for their patients and residents; and with the Care Quality Commission, to share information on healthcare providers that are providing poor care. The CQC’s State of Care report is due for publication tomorrow.

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