Thursday 2 December 2010


A new study has shown that elderly hospital patients aren't getting the level of care they should in hospitals. Following this report in November :

The Patient's Association have today confirmed that elderly patients "lack basic care" in hospital

One daughter watched her mother go into hospital with a fractured hip only to go home a week later ready to die from the dehydrated and malnutrition she suffered in hospital. Liz Prior says:

"I don't think anyone did anything on purpose, but it's a systemic, viral attitude."

I set up this very blog because of that one sentence. What's more, it's not just elderly patients, it's all patients. All I've written about for the last three weeks is the inadequate care patients receive in hospital. It is indeed systemic and patient's suffer on a daily basis because of it.

That's the horrible truth. Yesterday, the nurse taking care of us was so poor almost nothing got done. Drugs weren't administered, IVs stood empty and unchanged, liquid feeds didn't go up etc etc etc. I know it's unpleasant reading for the good nurses and hospital staff out there, but the system fails daily and suffering isn't just a word. Even if the life threatening things never went wrong, from a patient's point of view, soiling the bed because no-one will bring a commode, waiting hours in pain for painkillers or not getting a drink for hours are horrible, shaming, degrading things.

The Patient's Association claim

 "It's a scandal, and it's outrageous that it has been persisting for years."

Yes. It is a scandal and it has been happening for years. 

I have been telling the same story for 16 years. I've written to national newspapers, I've lobbied at Conference, I've written to MPs, I've complained to patient advisory services, I've blogged and I've begged and no-one has ever dared to believe I could be right.

I have notebooks at home detailing every year of the last 16 years and every diary is the same catalogue of astounding incompetence, frightening mistakes and cruel neglect. I'm sorry, but it happens every time, mistakes are made every day.

I'm delighted that at last, groups seem to be speaking out on the issue and blogs like mine are all over the web telling the same story.

I've said to every health professional I've seen over two decades, "Give me a month at your hospital/surgery/clinic and I will improve efficiency and patient care beyond all recognition." I don't recall a politician even answering my letters.

Complaints are simply never acknowledged. I've only ever made official complaints 3 times for the very worst failures. Once, because they poisoned me, once because I had a stroke on a surgical ward and the staff didn't recognise the symptoms and insisted I was just having a panic attack for an hour and a half and finally, because a consultant failed so spectacularly to communicate that I ended up having a massive seizure after an infection was left raging out of control for 5 months.

Each time, I've had letters saying either no-one could "remember", I was wrong to think anything dangerous had happened, or notes and letters have mysteriously altered or disappeared. I have all three letters, I think I'll post them soon.

We may finally have a chance to really confront the failures of patient care without covering things up and ducking the hard truths we need to face. We will all be a patient at some point. We will all need to hand over our lives to doctors and nurses at some point. It's vital that every single one of us tells our stories and makes sure that this changes. 

Patient care is shameful in the UK. At least, today, I'm not the only, lonely voice shouting a warning.


  1. PS - FORGIVE THE CAPITALS, BUT THIS IS PROBABLY MORE IMPORTANT TO ME THAN ANYTHING ELSE. Can you please share it everywhere you can? This could actually be a chance to DO something.

  2. I have been reading your blog for a little while now and I want to thank you. I have been 'moaning' for a long time about the state of OUR NHS and it has fallen of deaf ears. I too have tried to complain but not about anything as severe as what has happened to you. You never know one day we might be heard. I am now more or less housebound as the thought of asking a doctor for any more 'help' fills me with panic. I am in this state because the poor care I have received has ended up making me worse. I am very sure that my illness could have been dealt with a long time ago. If I could do it myself I would.

    I have watched loved ones receive dire care in hospitals and some of the things they were forced to do I believed only happened in 3rd world countries.

    Your bravery in speaking out is inspirational, I shall be sharing this were I can.

  3. Sue, I thought of you and your blog when this was announced on the News this monring. I hope this will make a difference.

  4. Thank you so much Hannah. Comments like yours are why I do it.
    Possibility of something in Guardian too, if they give green light. With these new reports, there might just be a chance things could change.

  5. great news Sue! keep up the excellent work!

  6. Thanks Eoin. Confirmed now, so very pleased. should appear Tuesday, so I'm trying to co-ordinate a kind of "Patient Tuesday" with other sickies I know.

  7. Sue
    What specific proposals regarding health care and the NHS would you like to see in Labour's policy review?

  8. Julian - I have a whole white paper on health ready to post. Now though, I'm thinking the Guardian might want them, so i'm not sure when you'll get to see them.
    Just off to bed now, but I'll reply more fully tomorrow.
    Night all.

  9. Syzygy Sue - You are amazing. New Statesman and goodness knows where else. Thanks. xxx

  10. Excellent I will be linking to this blog. Keep up the good work.

  11. "It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah" - Leonard Cohen.

  12. Vanilla Rose - What a perfect quote!! AND I never knew Hallelujah was originally Leonard Cohen who I love.

    By the way, if you ever come back to this, thank you so much for reading through my blog. It's lovely when someone actually reads more than one piece isn't it?

  13. I've been looking through youtube and think this is a good version of it.

    One of my family members saw LC in concert in Brighton in late 2008. I wish I had gone, but I didn't become a fan until nearly the end of 2008. That is when I decided to work on a burlesque routine to "I'm Your Man". (I performed it in front of a few people in June 2009. Looking at the DVD, it needs work but it was fun.)

    I love your blog.

  14. Brilliant! I love that you love my blog, I also love your comments to my trolls. Waste of energy, but nice of you, lol.

    I feel awful, cos I never seem to read anything but research and reports now, but must take a "blog" holiday and catch up on others.

  15. If you ever have time to see my blog, I hope you might be interested in the following:

    Blue Shoon (in which I am sort of ungracious about Nadine Dorries);
    It Happens, which wasn't specifically written with Crohn's Disease or similar problems in mind, but I hope you can relate to it;
    Banned, part of a minor skirmish I had with the Council (I won) and Firework, a brief post-script to the council skirmish.