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Hospital rapped for 'abject' nursing care

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“Dire” and “abject” nursing care at a hospital in Swansea may have contributed to the death of a patient with learning difficulties, an investigation has concluded.

The public services ombudsman for Wales last week published a damning report on the standards of nursing and clinical care received by Paul Ridd while at Morriston Hospital.

Mr Ridd, who had severe learning disabilities, was admitted to the hospital with a serious bowel problem in late 2008 and underwent surgery soon after. However, he died three weeks later due to excess secretions in his bronchial airways, following transfer from ICU to a general ward.

An internal investigation – sparked by complaints from Mr Ridd’s relatives – identified shortcomings in nursing care including an “absence” of individual care planning and nutritional or pressure area assessments, observations “not undertaken as instructed” and “occasions when carers were left to perform nursing interventions for which they were untrained”. 

The hospital produced an action plan in response but Mr Ridd’s relatives “remained unconvinced” it was adequate, leading to a further complaint to the ombudsman.

In his report on the case, ombudsman Peter Tyndall described the nursing care Mr Ridd received as “abject” and a “long way below reasonable standards”.

“It greatly concerns me that the dire level of nursing care to which Paul was subjected on the [general] ward, could have happened in the 21st century. It is vital that change is robust and long lasting,” he said.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, which runs the hospital, said it had already begun to implement the ombudsman’s recommendations, which included learning disability awareness training for staff.

The board said it had also increased its nursing staff levels and appointed a new ward sister, in response to the original investigation.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Learning Disability awareness for staff? Come on - every nurse has a code of conduct - what more do they need other than it be enforced by colleagues at the workplace and the senior management too.

    This just shows you that nursing has gone to the depths - it is not just attitudes towards older people but everyone.
    The right of respect and dignity (regardless of your job, responsibility, or even how stressed you are where you work when you are short staffed) is just not dealt with now for nurses' clients and patients.
    Nurses are 'educated and trained' to cope with difficult situations including short staff and fast turnover - and by that I mean their attitude towards any vulnerable person whom they may be providing a service too - aren't they???

    The direction of how nurses behave towards patients comes from the top and filters down. Get rid of the senior nurses please and make anyone who is rude, disrespectful and abusive really truly accountable for their actions.


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  • Unfortunately such reports tend to bring more form filling and narrow care pathways instead of more staff to allow time for individualised patient care.

    I expect on a busy ward that staff will be less able to deal with patients on an individual basis. I know that we are now subjected to such rigid protocols and vast amounts of paperwork that involve much duplication that it is easy to see the patient as an interruption to the 'real business' of satisfying managers.

    Isn't it about time that we started looking at what works well and letting that be the example that guides care? This ward failed - I bet many others have succeeded.

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