Tough action is needed against hospitals that neglect patients, the Patients Association has said.
It published harrowing stories of patients, many of them elderly, left “starving”, told to go to the toilet in their seat because nurses were too busy and relatives largely ignored while their loved ones died.
The charity said for every one of the 16 stories in its damning report, it receives many more detailing similar levels of poor care at the hands of the NHS.
Several of the cases involved patients who died in agony because of inadequate pain relief and one patient, Immacolata Lacovara, who had a “do not resuscitate” order put in her notes without her family’s permission, meaning nurses at Central Middlesex Hospital refused to help when she struggled to breathe.
In another hospital, a family member witnessed a patient accidentally pouring boiling soup over her legs but the nurse saying she was too busy to clear it up, meaning the patient was scalded and a doctor had to be called.
Another, George Taylor, 83, was admitted to Chase Farm Hospital in north London in August of this year.
His daughter Gaynor Marshall said: “On one occasion during his time on the ward dad was sat in a chair by his bed and needed the toilet.
“He asked a nurse to assist him, but was told that she was too busy, and that it would be easier for her if dad relieved his bowels in the chair.”
The nurse promised to clean it up later but never did, leaving Mr Taylor’s wife to do so.
The report said it contained “first-hand accounts of some of the very worst stories of poor care in hospitals that have come to the attention of the Patients Association Helpline.”
It follows earlier reports into poor care of the elderly by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Today, the Patients Association repeated its call for tougher action, including independent clinical ‘patient safeguarding champions’ to identify those wards where a long-term cultural change is required and oversee them until it happens.
The report also said the CQC inspections may not be enough to ensure long-term change in the NHS.
“It is simply not good enough to allow hospitals to make changes in the short-term to pass follow up inspections, which mask a longer term culture amongst nursing staff who then allow standards to slip once the gaze of the CQC has shifted away to another problem hospital.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “Everyone admitted to hospital deserves to be treated with compassion and dignity. Many parts of the NHS provide really good care, but some sadly fall short of what we demand.
“That’s why we asked the Care Quality Commission to carry out unannounced inspections on issues including patient dignity and nutrition.
“So far, 100 inspections have already been carried out and 700 more will be carried out next year.
“Wherever there is poor performance, we will root it out, and whatever the reason for that poor performance, we will tackle it. The Patients Association is right to raise these examples and issues, and we will work with them and with the NHS to sort these problems out.”