Tag Archives: hospital

Half of hospitals still treating patients in mixed wards

Half of hospitals still treating patients in mixed wards

Half of hospitals are still treating patients in mixed-sex wards as managers struggle to eradicate the practice before they start receiving fines.

By Martin Beckford, Health Correspondent 6:30AM GMT 18 Feb 2011

Official data show that 72 out of 144 acute trusts that provided figures treated men and women in the same wards in January, up from 70 out of 147 the previous month.

In total there were 8,160 incidences of patients of different sexes sharing wards last month.

Although this represents a fall on December’s figure of 11,362, it means managers are still battling to end the practice before a tough new regime is introduced.

From April, hospitals in England will face fines of £250 for each breach of the rules, which will be recorded on wards by computers and sent through the NHS management system.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “It is incredibly alarming that 50 per cent of hospitals are still providing mixed sex accommodation despite the Government’s commitment for this practice to stop by April.

NHS elderly care: sole carer coughing blood sent home

NHS elderly care: sole carer coughing blood sent home

Hundreds of Daily Telegraph readers have contacted the newspaper, offering examples of just how badly the NHS is failing elderly people. Here is one:

 By Andy Bloxham 8:00AM GMT 16 Feb 2011

Retired accountant John Williams, 80, is the sole carer for his wife Grace, 71, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

Last Saturday, Mr Williams, a former football referee and cricket umpire, began coughing up blood and mucus and was taken to West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen.

He was given an X-ray which showed “shadows” on his lungs but was told to wait overnight to be seen by a specialist.

By this time, Mr Williams had developed constipation which became increasingly uncomfortable. When, at around 4am on Sunday he requested a suppository, it did not arrive until around 11am, seven hours later.

The specialist, who Mr Williams said claimed to have already seen 50 patients during the weekend, told him he needed further tests but would have to wait three weeks, and he was discharged

Fighting back tears, Mr Williams told the Daily Telegraph: “I’m 80 years old and I’m coughing up blood every day. It’s getting worse not better. I was told to wait three weeks but I might not last three weeks.

“I’m going to be dead before long. Then my wife won’t have anybody to look after her.

“I’m the only person she’s got. I sort out all her pills. If I’m not there, she gets confused and takes the wrong ones. Last time, she ended up in hospital.

“I just feel that I’m dying and no one cares. I’m sure I’ve got pneumonia – I’ve had it before.

“Not everyone’s bad at the hospital: some of the girls are nice but you ask some of them to do something and they just walk away.

“I don’t want to die – I just want to be treated.”

No one from Carmarthenshire NHS Trust, which runs the West Wales hospital, was available for comment.


Poor treatment of older people in the NHS is an attitude problem

Poor treatment of older people in the NHS is an attitude problem

Health service ombudsman report reveals shocking treatment of the over-65s, who are being failed again and again

Some patients were not offered help with eating or bathing, and one was left in urine-soaked clothes held together with paper clips.
Mrs H was an independent woman who lived on her own until the age of 88 and loved literature and crosswords. This picture of this strong, dignified woman contrasts with the appalling treatment she suffered at the hands of the NHS. After a spell in hospital following a fall, she arrived at a care home with numerous injuries, soaked with urine and dressed in clothing that did not belong to her held up with paper clips. She had several bags of dirty clothing with her, much of which did not belong to her and just a few possessions left of her own. She was highly distressed, dishevelled and confused and had lost 5kg (11lb) since her admission to hospital. She died in August 2010.

This is just one of 10 shocking stories of people aged over 65 documented in a new report by the health service ombudsman . It highlights a range of clinical and operational failures; people at the end of life being discharged from hospital without correct pain relief, failure to deal with infection properly, malnutrition and dehydration. These are by no means isolated cases – 18% of complaints to the ombudsman last year were about care of older people and they investigated more than twice as many as for all other age groups put together.

Yet, as the ombudsman, Ann Abraham, reflects, this report reveals that at the heart of the problem is an attitude – both personal and institutional – which fails to treat older patients compassionately or respond to their individual emotional and social needs. One family was not informed when their father’s life support machine was switched off; a husband was left in a waiting room, forgotten about while his wife lay dying in the ward next door; a man with advanced stomach cancer was left behind a drawn curtains desperate to go to the toilet and unable to ask for help because he was so dehydrated he could not speak properly or swallow.

It’s difficult to imagine us allowing any other group of people to suffer this indignity and neglect, yet when it comes to older people it’s commonplace; as a society we often fail to value or treat older people equally. History shows fundamentally shifting people’s attitudes to overcome discrimination isn’t easy – it takes time and concerted effort – but nowhere is this more important than in the NHS where people over 65 make up 60% of all admissions. Only by casting these prejudices aside can we start seeing older people like Mrs H as individuals and respond properly to their needs.

Equality legislation outlawing age discrimination – due to come into force in 2012 – will certainly help. But in a period of huge reorganisation, support needs to be given to translate this into action on the ground. We also need better training of health professionals to care for growing numbers of people living with multiple health conditions and frailty. To end the scandal of malnutrition, we are calling for a commission to bring renewed focus to this issue and a strategy for change.

But this report also demands answers to some difficult questions to those leading the NHS through the proposed set of reforms. Will this huge shakeup reduce the risk of older people receiving this sort of treatment? Do they promise any positive change for vulnerable, frail patients?

I remain unconvinced that, as the reforms stand, they will deliver the improvements to the health outcomes and care of older people that are so urgently needed. For the sake of all the people featured in this report and all of us who need NHS care now and in the future, the secretary of state needs to answer these questions.

• Michelle Mitchell is charity director at Age UK