Hospitals shamed by patient horror stories

By Tony Hudson

English hospitals have been harshly criticised for poor levels of care by a report released today.

The Patients Association, a campaign charity pushing for changes that will improve the quality of care in hospitals, cites 16 cases of extremely poor hospital care heard by its helpline last year.

These include a patient waiting seven hours for an ambulance and the neglecting of another patient's basic hygiene requirements.

Another example of the failure of hospitals to provide adequate care was the allegation from the wife of patient Brian Smith that she had to run into the corridor screaming for help as he was dying because no one responded to the call buzzer.

"This report raises serious issues about the quality of care that patients are receiving on our hospital wards," Patients Association vice president Angela Rippon said.

Chief executive Katherine Murphy added: "The accounts of care contained in this report shame everyone involved.

"It's simply not good enough for this report to be recognised and then business to carry on as usual. There needs to be a culture shift in the way we treat patients on our wards."

The report contains accounts of poor patient care, focusing on care-communication, access to pain relief, assistance with toileting and help with eating and drinking.

Liz Kendall MP, shadow minister for care and older people, said the "appalling treatment" documented in the report was "unacceptable".

"These problems are partly due to the pressures the NHS faces: big increases in demand, squeezed resources, and more very sick elderly patients ending up in hospital, often because they aren't getting the up-front care and support they need in the community and from social services," she commented.

"This problem will only increase as local council budgets are cut and care for older people at home is reduced."