Ombudsman Puts Spotlight on Ealing Hospital

Elderly being failed by the NHS according to report

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Ealing Hospital has apologised after not telling a man that his wife was dying.

The husband of the Alzheimer's patient, who is only referred to as Mrs J, was "forgotten" by hospital staff at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, and left in a waiting room - denying him the chance to be with his wife as she died.

A statement from Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, commenting on the case of Mrs J, said: "The circumstances surrounding Mrs J's death at Ealing Hospital in October 2007 were very sad.

"In particular we are sorry that we did not do everything possible to help her husband at this difficult time. As part of our initial complaint investigation, we have made many improvements in the way in which we treat and care for our patients.

"This included implementing a prompting system to alert A&E staff of the presence of a carer or relative and the implementation of an emergency warning system to highlight patients who have signs of deterioration.

"We acknowledge that caring for a dying patient in A&E isn't ideal and that more could have been done to involve the patient's husband in her care. We also acknowledge that there was a lack of documentation to support the care provided to the patient. As the report states, Mr J was subsequently offered and accepted an apology from the trust."

It's one of 10 complaints used by the health service ombudsman to highlight how the elderly are being failed by the NHS.

In a damning report, Ann Abraham said the 10 complaints showed neglect of even the "most basic" human needs. The report detailed how one patient transferred by ambulance to a care home arrived bruised, soaked in urine, dishevelled and wearing someone else's clothes.

Ms Abraham warned these were not isolated incidents and the NHS needed to undergo an "urgent" widespread change in attitude towards older people. Of nearly 9,000 properly made complaints to the ombudsman about the NHS last year, 18% were about the care of older people.

She said: "Underlying such acts of carelessness and neglect is a casual indifference to the dignity and welfare of older patients. That this should happen anywhere must cause concern - that it should take place in a setting intended to deliver care is indefensible."

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the cases made for "distressing" reading. He said: "It is, of course, important to put these 10 examples in perspective. The NHS sees over a million people every 36 hours and the overwhelming majority say they receive good care. But I fully appreciate that this will be of little comfort to patients and their families when they have been on the receiving end of poor care."




15th February 2011