Archive for February 15th, 2011

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is failing to provide the most basic standards of care for people over 65. The official report, submitted by Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham, highlights ten examples of inhumane treatment of elderly patients and condemns doctors and nurses for their dismissive attitudes and indifference to the appalling care.

“The inhumane treatment of older people described in this report is sickening and should send shock waves through the NHS and Government.”—Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK

The report found that deplorable standards of care and improperly managed medication was responsible for alert, able-bodied people becoming dehydrated, malnourished, or uncommunicative.

“This is not only a damning indictment of our health service, but of our society in general, where older people count for less and damaging discriminatory attitudes against older people remain rife.”—Michelle Mitchell

The examples of hospital patient neglect listed in the report include:

• A patient died alone because caregivers failed to notice the spouse had been waiting for three hours;

• A patient had not been washed for 13 weeks, wound dressings had not been changed, and food and drink had been denied;

• A patient was discharged covered with bruises, soaked in urine, and dressed in someone else’s clothes, which were attached by paper clips;

• Doctors switched off a heart attack patient’s life-support system despite the spouse’s request to leave it on until the rest of the family had been notified;

• Ward patients were so dehydrated they couldn’t cry out for help;

• Patients were discharged when they were dangerously underweight;

• Nurses were too busy chitchatting to assist patients with eating their meals;

• Patients were not helped to the toilet and went months without baths or showers;

• Visiting relatives were ignored by caregivers; and

• Meal trays, water, and emergency call buttons were routinely left out of the patient’s reach.

“It is of course important to put these 10 examples in perspective. The NHS sees over a million people every 36 hours and the overwhelming majority say they receive good care.”—Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the NHS Confederation

The report found it “incomprehensible” that NHS caregivers had to be told to provide their elderly patients with clean and comfortable surroundings, assistance with eating and drinking water, and the ability to call for help.

“The findings of my investigations reveal an attitude – both personal and institutional – which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality of the people concerned and to respond to them with sensitivity, compassion and professionalism.”— Ann Abraham, Health Service Ombudsman

During its most recent stint in power, the UK’s leftist Labour Party trippled government healthcare spending. Therefore, it would seem that the UK’s system of socialized medicine is plagued not so much by a lack of money as it is by a lack of human decency.

I.M. Kane

For more on the story, see NHS Failing The Elderly Says Damning Report, NHS shamed over callous treatment of elderly, and Exposed: Shocking neglect of the elderly on wards of shame.

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