Via Wesley Smith, the NHS Ombudsman investigated ten cases in which families complained of the treatment their elderly loved ones received in the hospital.
NHS shamed over callous treatment of elderly:
A study of pensioners who suffered appalling treatment at the hands of doctors and nurses says that half were not given enough to eat or drink. One family member said the maltreatment amounted to “euthanasia”. [. . .]The anecdotes are harrowing. A sampling:
Ann Abraham, who as health ombudsman carries out independent investigation of complaints against the health service, said: “The findings of my investigations reveal an attitude – both personal and institutional – which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality of the people concerned and to respond to them with sensitivity, compassion and professionalism.
"The reasonable expectation that an older person or their family may have of dignified, pain-free end of life care in clean surroundings in hospital is not being fulfilled. Instead, these accounts present a picture of NHS provision that is failing to meet even the most basic standards of care.
Mrs J – all those involved in the report have been kept anonymous – was 82, had Alzheimer’s and lived in a nursing home. She was rushed to Ealing Hospital one evening when her husband found she was having breathing difficulties during a visit. He spent three hours in a waiting room without staff realising he was there, and so missed the chance to be with his wife as she died. In addition, the Ombudsman found the monitoring of his wife by medics had been poor, as had the hospital’s complaints process. Mr J said: “It was a shabby, sad end to my poor wife’s life.”Good-bye to all that. The state takes no notice of such weak-minded sentimentality. Just get on with the dying, and be quick about it.
A man who was diagnosed with stomach cancer, known as Mr D, was discharged from the Royal Bolton Hospital on an August Bank Holiday weekend in a process described by his daughter as a “shambles”. He was left sitting in a chair, behind drawn curtains, for several hours in pain and desperate to use the lavatory. He was so dehydrated that his tongue was “like dried leather”. Mr D was not given sufficient painkillers and so his family had to spend the weekend in a “frantic” and “harrowing” effort to find more, just days before he died. His daughter said the hospital treated him “as if he didn’t exist”.
Mrs R spent 13 weeks in the care of Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust because she kept suffering falls. Her daughter said she was never offered a bath or shower, her wound dressings were not changed and the fact she was denied food or drink amounted to “euthanasia”. Eight of her nine falls in hospital were not recorded and she was denied cot sides in her bed because they “might compromise her rights”. Mrs R’s husband was said to have “died of a broken heart” after witnessing her treatment. [emphasis added]
Mrs H, who was deaf but described as “feisty and independent”, was taken to Birmingham Heartlands Hospital with acute confusion. While there she suffered serious falls but her only relative was not told, poor nursing records were kept and she lost 11lb. When she was later moved into a care home, she was found to have numerous injuries, was “soaked” with urine and was wearing someone else’s clothes, held together with large paper clips. Her own belongings appeared to have been lost. Her niece said Mrs H, who died in August, was left “totally alone and abandoned”.
A man who had been writing a book underwent heart surgery at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, and afterwards his family struggled to get information on his condition from staff, some of whom spoke “very poor” English. They were later bluntly told he had “flatlined” and his distraught wife wanted to phone their sons. But when she returned to the ward she found that, against her express wishes, staff had switched off Mr C’s life-support system and he was dead. “We would have liked the opportunity to have the peace of mind of sitting with my father and praying for him,” his daughter said.
Meanwhile, Obama's unconfirmed NHS-loving CMMS head Dr. Donald Berwick is back in the news. The president has re-nominated him but his chances of confirmation are slim:
If he is not confirmed, he will have to leave the post at the end of the year. But Republicans are still angry over the recess appointment, and there's no sign any of them have changed their minds about him. Meanwhile, the GOP has bolstered its ranks in the Senate since last year.If we can't get rid of him until the end of the year, how about defunding his position?
Republicans objected to his previous statements in support of the British health system and the rationing of care, which Berwick says were taken out of context. More recently, they have been critical of his leadership at CMS.
The top Republican on the Finance Committee, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, said a confirmation hearing could be futile.
“I don’t really expect one to happen, but it could happen,” he told POLITICO. “I don’t think there’s the support for him, I’ll put it that way. So I question whether they should have a hearing. [It’s] a waste of the committee’s time.”
Baucus (D-Mont.) said last year that he was “troubled” that Obama gave Berwick a recess appointment before the Democratic-controlled Senate could even schedule a confirmation hearing but said he wanted to work with him.
Dr. Berwick, testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee, claims to have lost some of his ardor for rationing and the NHS:
Berwick has championed the British health care system for years proclaiming his outright support of rationing. In 2009, Berwick said, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” In a 2008 speech, Berwick proclaimed, “I am romantic about the NHS; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.” Of course, the British system openly rations care for the sick and the elderly.
But Berwick ran from those statements like a scalded dog before House members who asked pointed questions about his support for rationing care. When Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) asked him whether he supports healthcare rationing, Berwick said, “I abhor rationing.” At another point he said that he spent his whole life fighting rationing, The Hill reports.
Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) asked him whether he was still “in love” with the British healthcare system, Berwick’s response: “There are strengths and weaknesses in every healthcare system in the world. The American healthcare system needs an American solution.”
For fear of stating the obvious, it is clear Berwick was not honest in his testimony.
Allow me to plug a good cause here. The Little Sisters of the Poor have made it their mission to care for the elderly poor. I've seen them in action and can testify that they do so with great love. Donations will help them continue their important work.
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