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Drop in care standards at hospitals

Published on 19 March 2013 02:00 PM

Around a fifth of hospitals in England are failing to treat patients with sufficient dignity and respect, according to the UK's care regulator.


A Care Quality Commission (CQC) report has revealed that 18% of the 50 hospitals it examined last year did not always meet the required standard of care for their patients. In 2011 the survey found unsatisfactory levels at 12% of hospitals.

The CQC's job is to check all hospitals and care homes in the country to make sure they are meeting national standards. It said it was 'unacceptable' that the situation last year had been allowed to get worse.

Professional and moral duty

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK, commented: ‘There must be a zero tolerance attitude to poor, neglectful care and there is no excuse for failing to respond to a patients needs.

‘Staff across health and care services have a professional and moral duty to make sure the dignity of their patients and residents is enshrined in every action. This means involving people in decisions about their care, providing care that treats people with respect and helping people to be as independent as possible.'

Five basic standards

The report involved five basic standards: protecting patients from abuse, treating them with respect, providing nutrition, appropriate staff levels and proper record keeping.

Milton Keynes General Hospital failed to meet all five of the required standards, Newham Hospital in east London met only one of them and just two of the standards were identified at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Alderney Hospital in Dorset and King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Privacy and dignity 'not respected'

Just weeks ago Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was the subject of a public inquiry over serious failings at Stafford Hospital, where it is thought that neglect and poor treatment may have led to the deaths of up to 1,200 patients.

The CQC also said that patients' privacy and dignity were not respected at 16% of the 500 care homes it inspected in 2012, while the standards of nutrition were not high enough in 17% of the homes, leading to worries that some patients are not being encouraged to eat and drink enough.

Care of older people needs 'fundamental change'

The regulator's chief executive, David Behan, said the report did find examples of good care and evidence of improvement since 2011, but he expressed his disappointment over a lack of privacy for patients and the fact that some are not attended to when they call for help.

He said ensuring that the basic standards of care are met can turn 'a stressful experience for an older person into a supportive and caring one' in hospitals and care homes and this happens when staff are supported and managed effectively.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK, added: ‘The care of older people needs fundamental change so that hospitals and care homes ensure all patients and residents are treated with dignity, respect and courtesy.  

‘The Dignity in Care Commission was set up to tackle the underlying causes of poor care in hospitals and care homes. The Government needs to act to guarantee fair access to high quality health and social care services. We need to work at every level to get to the heart of these issues and drive real cultural change, so we can get it right for every person, every time.' 

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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