The Care Quality Commission of the UK has slammed the National Health Service over elderly care.
One in five hospitals is breaking the law in its level of neglect of the elderly, its latest report revealed.
The Commission found at least 20 hospitals where care was so poor that patients were denied 'the basics in life' - eating, drinking and going to the toilet. This was a fifth of the hospitals investigated by the Government watchdog. It warned that staff in some NHS trusts were "putting paperwork over people."
On some wards inspectors saw frail patients rattling their bedrails or banging on water jugs to try to attract the attention of staff. On others, nurses had ignored doctors' instructions to put dehydrated patients on drips and abandoned them without fluids.
Inspectors found that in many hospitals the elderly were routinely forced to undergo the indignity of using commodes next to their beds because staff were too busy to take them to the toilet.
The Commission observed -
We made unannounced inspections of 100 NHS hospitals to check whether older people were being treated with dignity and respect, and whether they were getting food and drink that met their needs. We saw many examples of excellent care, finding that 45 hospitals were meeting both of these standards. At 35 hospitals we made suggestions for improvement, although essential standards were being met. However, we found 11 hospitals that were not meeting one of the two essential standards, and in nine cases neither of the essential standards was met.
Another of the outcomes says people can expect to be safeguarded from abuse or the risk of abuse and have their human rights respected and upheld. Our figures show that independent hospitals and clinics met this outcome most readily. The abuse uncovered at Winterbourne View hospital, however, highlights the failure of the system to protect people with learning disabilities, challenging behaviour and mental health problems. The safeguarding of the most vulnerable remains of utmost priority for providers, commissioners and regulators. In both the NHS and adult social care, failure to comply with this outcome was one of the three most common reasons we issued warning notices in response to major concerns.
The reporting of patient safety incidents or near misses is an important way in which organisations can learn from mistakes and support ongoing improvement. In 2010/11 there were 1.25 million incidents reported, an increase on the 1.19 million reported the previous year. This continued the year-on-year increase.
However, the Commission also noted with some satisfaction -
The NHS continues to make good progress in infection control. In 2010/11 there was a 22 per cent reduction in MRSA cases compared to the previous year, and a 15 per cent reduction in C. difficile
The NHS inpatient survey provides valuable information about inpatients' perceptions of cleanliness:
There have been year-on-year improvements in perceptions of hospital cleanliness. In 2010, two-thirds of inpatients said their hospital room or ward was "very clean".
In 2010, the proportion of patients reporting that, as far as they knew, doctors "always" washed their hands between touching patients rose to 78 per cent. Ninety-six per cent of patients had seen promotional information asking patients and visitors to wash their hands or use hand-wash gels.
There were once again significant improvements in efforts to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation in NHS hospitals. More respondents to the 2010 patient survey reported not having to share sleeping areas or toilet and washing facilities with patients of the opposite sex than was the case in 2009.
The results of the 2011 community mental health services survey were very similar to those the previous year: overall, 29 per cent of respondents rated the care they had received as excellent, 30 per cent as very good and 20 per cent as good. The vast majority of participants said they were listened to and had trust in their health and social care workers. However, the findings show there is room for improvement, especially in involving people more in some aspects of their care.