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.