Failures in continence care at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust would have been unlikely if there had been “an adequately implemented system of nursing and ward management”, the independent inquiry has concluded.
In his report, published today, Robert Francis QC said his inquiry had heard accounts of patients being left in sheets “soiled with urine and faeces” for considerable periods of time, “which was especially distressing for those whose incontinence was caused by Clostridium difficile”.
The report said some families “felt obliged” to take soiled sheets home to wash and that the inquiry had heard from families who said some staff had been dismissive of the needs of patients.
“It is difficult to believe that lapses on the scale that was evidenced could have occurred if there had been an adequately implemented system of nursing and ward management.
Mr Francis said accounts heard by the inquiry suggested that the attitude of some nursing staff at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust to poor continence care “left much to be desired.
“There were accounts suggesting that the attitude of some nursing staff to these problems left much to be desired,” the report said.
Mr Francis said the accounts he had heard indicated a “totally unacceptable” standard of care, which, taken together, indicated a systemic failure.
He said the causes of the poor care included a small number of staff who “appeared uncaring”.
However, more often the problems were the result of “inadequate numbers of staff on duty to deal with the challenge of a population of elderly and confused patients”.
The inquiry concluded there may also have been a lack of training in continence care and said “difficulties may have been compounded some of the time by infection control problems”.