Report says hospital failed the elderly and vulnerable

First published in News

THE Royal Bolton Hospital was today been named and shamed in a damning report which claims the NHS is failing elderly and vulnerable patients.

The case of a dying cancer patient who was found sitting behind a curtain in agony at the Bolton hospital is cited by the Health Service Ombudsman in the report.

The document, “Care and compassion?”, is based on the findings of independent investigations into 10 cases across the country, including the Bolton incident.

It says “Mr D” was found distressed when his family arrived to collect him on discharge. He was in pain, desperate for the toilet, severely dehydrated and could not reach the emergency button.

On arrival home his family found he did not have enough painkillers, spending most of a bank holiday weekend trying to sort this. He died three days after he was discharged.

The family complained to the trust and the then health watchdog, the Healthcare Commission.

The Health Ombudsman was also contacted and upheld the complaint.

It is now using the case to highlight how there is a gap between what the NHS promises to deliver — and the reality.

Its report says the care and treatment “fell below reasonable standards”

and “caused distress and suffering”.

The Royal Bolton Hospital has admitted it failed the patient but stressed the case happened six years ago and it had made many changes since then.

Heather Edwards, head of communications, said: “The trust fully accepts that regrettably we failed in our care of this gentleman but we also did not provide his daughter with evidence of the changes we made. We would like to repeat our apologies to her.”

Ms Edwards added: “This case happened six years ago and before we were a Foundation Trust.

“The Ombudsman’s report confirms our own investigation and the subsequent Health Care Commission report.

“Lessons learned from it have helped us to develop our current, much improved, practice.”

Measures taken include strengthened risk assessments, more rigorous patient observations and updated discharge arrangements.

The Health Ombudsman says of nearly 9,000 complaints last year, more than 1,600 were about the care of older people. Ann Abraham said: “These often harrowing accounts should cause every member of NHS staff who reads this report to pause and ask themselves if any of their patients could suffer in the same way.

“The NHS must close the gap between the promise of care and compassion and the injustice that many older people experience.”

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