A new official report has flagged up “devastating and shocking” errors made by the NHS and involving patients at every stage of life.
Failure in basic levels of care
The investigation into 126 complaints against the NHS, led by Dame Julie Mellor, showed many cases of a lack of care and compassion, and other cases featured serious mistakes leading to huge levels of harm. Dame Julie stated she was particularly concerned about the number of patients who were being discharged inappropriately from hospital which was putting them in danger.
The job of the Heath Service Ombudsman is to investigate complaints from dissatisfied families who allege failings against the NHS which have already been looked into by the NHS Trusts. At the beginning of 2014, the investigators promised to publish regular updates to the study to see whether the NHS was learning from its mistakes.
The second damning report was issued earlier in the year and looked at complaints in the second quarter of 2014. Dame Julie Mellor stated that the investigations revealed the devastating consequences that failings in NHS services can have on patients and their families too.
Elderly patients are particularly vulnerable
Many of the complaints were about medical errors – in particular older patients who were wrongly discharged from hospital. Other complaints were about elderly patients who went unfed, left in soiled clothing, or did not have adequate pain relief.
A Health Department spokesperson stated that the NHS had never been more transparent, and said that the government was working with the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman to look at even more cases in order to improve standards of patient care.
This report is not even slightly surprising. Although there’s not debating that the NHS has some amazing qualities, as an institution it has been covering up mistakes and not challenging poor basic care and medical practice for years. We’ve reported many times about some truly horrific hospital scandals, such as the much talked about problems at the Mid Staffs Trust. Will there be more hospital scandals to come? Almost definitely. The better news is that now that poor care is being held up for inspection more closely, the NHS will start to get its house in order, leading to improving levels of patient care in many hospitals which up until now have been failing, and this will lead to a falling rate of unnecessary deaths and fewer basic medical negligence claims.
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