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'Gold standard' needed for hospital care

Published on 03 September 2013 10:30 AM

A new quality mark should be introduced to help hospitals provide the best quality of care for older patients, experts have said.

A report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) claims that hospitals should strive to achieve a 'gold standard' of care.


The suggestion forms part of the RCP's response to the Francis Report into failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

A public inquiry highlighted the 'appalling and unnecessary suffering' of patients at the trust, with hundreds likely to have died needlessly due to maltreatment and neglect.

Many instances of substandard care took place on wards caring for vulnerable older people.

Quality mark for wards offering ‘high-quality service'

In its response to the Francis Report, the RCP makes a number of recommendations to ensure that the Mid Staffordshire scandal is never repeated.

In particular, it said older patients should be a priority. Offering a quality mark to wards that provide a high-quality service for this group of patients could help the NHS to address the bad practice identified in the Francis Report, the RCP said.

Suzie Hughes, chairwoman of the RCP's patient and carer network, said: 'We must get care right for the most vulnerable group, who are often the most challenging to treat: frail older people. The challenge is to embed the experience of this group in hospital care - getting it right for them is our first benchmark.'

The programme will be rolled out following a pilot, with the first quality mark expected to be awarded next year.

‘A real culture change is needed'

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, said: 'Time and again we hear from older people and their families who have received unacceptable treatment and care. More than 65% of people in hospital at any one time are over the age of 65, yet services are often ill-equipped to meet their needs.

'A real culture change is needed across the NHS, and all staff must take responsibility for putting the person receiving care first, and leaders in the NHS including doctors play a crucial role in improving dignity in care.

‘It is really encouraging to see RCPs response to the Francis inquiry and that they are working with other health professionals to strive for much needed improvements. We believe truly putting patients first involves listening to patients' feedback and improving patient care.

'Older people are amongst the most frail in hospital and usually have the most complex needs. It's in the interest of both hospital and patients that wherever possible older people are not shifted around from ward to ward as this puts their care and recuperation at risk.

'There is good evidence to show that if older patients are moved they will spend longer in hospital and be at greater risk of being readmitted.'

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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