Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

The Envy of the World

STAFF at a major Scottish hospital left a pensioner without food for 10 days and sedated her repeatedly, a damning report has revealed.

Nurses appeared to have a “negative attitude” towards the 80-year-old, who suffered from dementia, and gave her more than 80 tranquillizing drugs in little more than a fortnight.

From The Herald. And over on Sky News:

Serious concerns have been raised about the way some NHS hospitals treat elderly people – including one where patients are prescribed water to make sure they get a drink.

Inspectors expressed “major” concerns about nutrition at the Alexandra Hospital in Worcestershire, which is part of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

They found “meals served and taken to the bedside of people who were asleep or not sitting in the right position to enable them to eat their meal”.

Hot dinners and puddings were left for 15 minutes to go cold before staff found time to assist patients.

Staff said they sometimes had to prescribe drinking water on medication charts to “ensure people get regular drinks”.

At Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, inspectors found patients left in night clothes all day and not always taken to the toilet away from where they slept.

Records were not always up-to-date and staff spoke among themselves when caring for patients rather than to the patient.

Chair of the CQC Jo Williams said most hospitals provided good care, but at others staff showed a lack of compassion.

Yeah, this is the line we always get. I don’t doubt that – to quote one of the CCIZ tags – sometimes they get it right, but from personal experience, I simply don’t believe that these kind of incidents are as “isolated” as they’d like us to think. The Herald report in particular doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’ve seen this sort of thing with my own eyes. I’ve known elderly people – bright, intelligent, elderly people, with their full complement of marbles – who went into hospital with minor ailments only to turn into sedated, drooling, zombies and never leave.

There are good staff, excellent staff, here and there – I’ve seen them at work too, and people very dear to me owe their lives to them – but what can they do in a system that rewards failure and penalizes success?

Back to Sky again:

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Everyone admitted to hospital deserves to be treated as an individual, with compassion and dignity.

“We must never lose sight of the fact that the most important people in the NHS are its patients.”

Really, Andrew? Are you absolutely sure about that?


  1. Fred Thrung says:

    One of the hospitals mentioned in the Sky News link is Ipswich. I was there as a patient and consider myself lucky to have been discharged alive. The treatment in the intensive care ward – after a c*ck*p by theatre people and a nurse on the ward – was above reproach but when I reverted to the status of a normal patient I was appalled at the treatment I received. Compassion and dignity (© Andrew Lansley) were totally absent. I am elderly (or old as we used to say).

  2. Tom Paine says:

    It’s not exceptional at all. It’s exactly what is to be expected from a monopoly producer-cooperative. There’s no solution short of full privatisation. And there’s no hope of that as long as the subject is taboo.

  3. JuliaM says:

    Take a look at the ongoing news story of the BBC producer’s expediency of the NHS’s ‘world class’ maternity service.

    And then think how long those two midwives must have worked there. Are you expecting me to believe that was just an off day for them..?

  4. dfwmtx says:

    Personally, I love how American socialists….sorry, ‘progressives’ ignore stories like this, and insist the UK and Canada have better healthcare systems because they were treated immediately of their hangnails when they were touring Europe in their grungy days.

  5. Sunfish says:


    I don’t understand the reference to prescribing water, though. Were the patients to be receiving fluids by IV, or did a doctor actually have to order the charge nurses to give the patient a glass of water PO? Because I’m having trouble picturing a charge nurse being stupid enough that she would need to be told to give her patients water

    Then again, I’ve never been blessed with the opportunity to experience the clearly-superior NHS. I no doubt am missing something important.

  6. ivan says:

    Some of the comments about this in the Mail were rather uncomplimentary yo say the least.

  7. Lynne says:

    I have an elderly neighbour who is about to shell out £2,000 on overnight treatment at a private hospital because she wants to make sure that she comes out alive. She is doing so following the horror stories from elderly friends and relatives who put their trust in the NHS and found it disgustingly wanting. Having directly experienced a fuck up that nearly cost me the use of my legs several years ago (Idemanded and got a second opinion at a different hospital via a private consultation) I think she’s made the right decision.

  8. Don’t get old.

  9. NickM says:

    That also puzzled me. I don’t think it is IV. So yeah it is a prescription for water, orally. Having said that I do wonder if the BBC et al are possibly confusing a “care plan” with a “prescription”. I wouldn’t put it past them. Obviously basic needs ought to be on the care plan and the ward charge nurse ought to ensure his or her staff follow care-plans.

    What also gets me about this is not just the cruelty but the monumental waste of it all. The NHS has frequently complained about “bed-blocking”. Looks like they are responsible for a lot it themselves!

    And to think of all that lovely Jamie Oliver bistro-style food going to waste too!

  10. wh00ps says:

    Tom Paine has it exactly right, it’s because they are a monopoly provider.
    one part stands out- “staff were talking amongst themselves rather than to the patients”

    I work in a shop. If we are seen talking amongst ourselves and not to customers, it’s grounds for disciplinary action. The operative word being “customer.” This is because our firm knows that customers have a choice, and if they receive bad service they can easily go elsewhere, not such a problem for the nhs, who by and large run “elsewhere” too…

  11. NickM says:

    Well precisely wh00ps! I have seen on visiting in hospitals a heck of a lot of nurses hanging around the ward nursing station talking not abot the case of Mr X in bed 4 but Big Brother.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: