Health regulator raises elderly care concerns as three hospitals fail reviews
Serious concerns have been raised by the NHS care regulator about the way some hospitals in England look after elderly patients.
The Care Quality Commission said three had failed to meet legal standards for giving patients enough food and drink and treating them in a dignified way.
The CQC, which carried out unannounced inspections, also raised concerns about three other NHS hospitals.
The commission has published the first 12 results of 100 such inspections, called for by the health secretary Andrew Lansley after a long campaign by the Patients Association, which highlighted poor care for the elderly.
While its inspectors said there had been many examples of people being treated with respect and given excellent care, in other cases people had not been helped to eat and drink, “with their care needs not assessed and their dignity not respected”.
All six hospitals about which concerns were raised must now say how and when they will improve. The worst three offenders will have to improve or face action from the regulator.
The inspections looked at nutrition and found cases of patients not being helped to eat, poor monitoring of patients’ weight and people not being given enough to drink, with water being out of reach for long periods of time.
In one case, a member of staff at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said they had to prescribe water on medical charts to ensure patients got enough to drink.
Inspectors also looked at dignity and respect, noting that elderly patients were sometimes not involved in their own care and were given no explanation of the treatment they were to receive or asked for consent.
Staff also treated people in a disrespectful way, spooning food into their mouths without engaging them.
The reports acknowledge examples of excellent care where treatment was explained in a way patients could understand and they were treated with respect and dignity.
Jo Williams, chair of the CQC, said the inspections had built a detailed picture of the care being received by elderly patients in NHS hospitals in England.
“Many of these reports describe people being ‘cared for’ in the truest sense. Sadly, however, some detail omissions which add up to a failure to meet basic needs – people not spoken to with respect, not treated with dignity, and not receiving the help they need to eat or drink.
“These are not difficult things to get right – and the fact that staff are still failing to do so is a real concern. These are the basics that help ensure every patient is treated like an individual – not a nuisance to be ignored or a task that must be completed.
“This is what we expect for ourselves and for our own families, and what every patient should expect from the people who care for them.”
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that everyone admitted to hospital deserved to be treated as an individual, with compassion and dignity.
More CQC reports will be published over the summer with the findings of the programme of inspections released in the autumn.
Tags: Andrew Lansley, Care Quality Commission, Doctors, Health Professionals, Nurses, Patients' Association, preventable crisis, Quangos