Medical practice

Charity report shows examples of bad NHS care

"'Shocking' treatment in NHS hospitals and care homes exposed in report," The Guardian reports, while the Daily Mail says that a "Damning report reveals failings in NHS care of patients 'treated worse than animals'."

The news comes from a new charity report that highlights cases where people have had serious concerns about their NHS care.

Who produced this report?

The fourth annual "Patient Stories" report was produced by the Patients Association, a charity that advocates "greater and equitable access to high quality, accurate and independent information for patients, for greater and equitable access to high quality care and for involvement in decision making as a right."

What does the report say?

The Patient Stories report highlights the stories of 12 patients – or their family or carers – who have received unacceptable care from the NHS. These include:

  • A man who had dementia and escaped from the hospital where he was being treated, despite supposed regular checks. He was later found to have drowned in a nearby river.
  • An older woman who broke her hip and allegedly received suboptimal care in hospital and experienced a poor discharge process over a Bank Holiday weekend.
  • An elderly man who died after a long list of alleged care and communication failures by staff.
  • An elderly women receiving palliative care in a nursing home who was found agitated and partially dressed in her room unattended.
  • A woman who was admitted to hospital and developed postoperative sepsis. She was unhappy with the level of communication between staff during her stay as well as the lack of attention to detail, which almost led to her being given a drug she was allergic to.
  • A girl with diabetes whose mother says that the care and communication from the hospital was below the standard that they would expect after an admission via A&E.
  • A woman who was unhappy about the care of the out-of-hours GP service. She says she found it incredibly difficult to see a doctor and felt neglected during her consultation.

The foreword to the report, written by the Patients Association's helpline manager, says: "It is easy to read these accounts and dismiss them as 13 isolated instances of poor care, but this is the fourth consecutive year that we have published Patient Stories."

It goes on: "Just by examining these examples which are highlighted here, it is clear to see that there is a problem and it would be negligent for us to ignore the information that we have."

The report also includes responses from some of the NHS organisations involved.

How can I complain about NHS care?

If you feel you need to complain about an NHS service, you should do so as soon as possible. If you are receiving unsatisfactory care or do not understand the situation, it is worth asking the health professionals involved in your care to explain.

Formal complaints can be made via your local primary care trust. Read more about the NHS complaints system.

How can I help improve NHS care?

The complaints process can help improve care. However, you can also rate your local NHS services, such as hospitals and GP practices, on the NHS Choices website.

If you are a member of NHS or social care staff, you can call the free NHS whistleblowing helpline on 08000 724 725.

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