NHS hospitals’ care standards vary in postcode lottery

Most patients staying overnight in hospital are happy with their care, but this masks problems in key areas and variations in standards, a survey says.

Nine in 10 inpatients in England said their care was good, very good or excellent, the Health Commission poll of almost 76,000 people showed.

But problems with the quality of food, information on treatment and the use of mixed sex facilities were reported.

The government said it would look to drive up standards where necessary.

But campaigners said the results were worrying and demonstrated that the NHS was struggling to give patients the respect and dignity they deserved.

Top five trusts:
Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust, Oswestry: 92
Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, East Grinstead, West Sussex: 91
The Cardiothoracic Centre, Liverpool NHS Trust: 90
Christie Hospital NHS Trust, Manchester: 90
Royal Marsden, London: 90

Bottom five trusts:
Ealing Hospital, London: 65
Homerton University Hospital, London: 67
Mayday, Croydon: 67
Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust, London: 68
North Middlesex University Hospital, London: 69
On a scale of 0 (poor) to 100 (very good)

Overall, one in four patients said they shared a sleeping area with patients of the opposite sex when first admitted – but in some of the 165 trusts this rose to nearly half, while others had almost no sharing.

For non-emergency care, which is where the labour government has promised to eradicate the use of mixed-sex accommodation, one in 10 said they had shared a sleeping area.

On the quality of food, just over half described it as good, while 15% said it was poor.

A fifth of those needing help with eating also said they did not get it, but again there were big variations, with more than 40% reporting a lack of help in some trusts.

Patients also reported problems with the way they were kept informed about decisions relating to their care. One in five said they were not given enough information.

Mixed sex wards

The numbers saying their wards or rooms were very clean has also fallen slightly in the last five years to 53%, despite the focus on hospital infections such as MRSA.

However, overall attitudes to the care patients received were largely positive.

The numbers saying their care was excellent rose from 41% to 42% in the last year. Overall, 92% said it was good, very good or excellent.

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said the findings were “encouraging”. But she added: “Some hospitals are struggling to deliver on some of the basics of hospital care.

“There are striking variations in performance in key areas. Those performing poorly must learn form those who perform well.”

And Charlotte Potter, of Help the Aged, added: “Scores in some trusts were worryingly low when it came to being treated with dignity and respect or receiving help with eating – areas of care particularly important to older people.”


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