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Elderly patients... do we care enough?

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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It has today been revealed that the levels of care afforded to elderly patients in NHS hospitals is not improving, despite reports in November that urged for improvement of the care provided.
The NHS is failing to treat elderly patients in England with care, dignity and respect, an official report says.
While the Ombudsman's Care and Compassion report is only based on 10 cases, the ombudsman said they were far from isolated examples with 18% of the 9,000 complaints made to the ombudsman last year relating to the care and treatment of older people. 226 cases were accepted for investigation - twice as many as for all the other age groups combined.
The Health Service Ombudsman has carried out an in-depth review of 10 cases, all of which have revealed that elderly patients are suffering unnecessary pain, neglect and distress and are being denied even the most basic standard of care.
With the elderly population rising, and the over-65s already occupying almost two thirds of hospital beds and a decade of rapidly increasing spending on the NHS, the care that is given to the elderly patients needs improvement.
Of the 10 cases that were assessed, patients were left hungry and thirsty, unwashed, in soiled clothes, without adequate pain relief or an emergency call button in reach. Relatives were ignored or forgotten.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘The situation is completely unacceptable. Attitudes need to change – older patients need to be treated with respect and compassion, not as an inconvenience.’ 
The poor treatment that has been examined by the report demonstrates unacceptable treatment that has resulted in delays in receiving correct treatment and delays in diagnosing illnesses and in some cases, death of the patients.
The ombudsman deals with complaints that patients and relatives feel have not been properly dealt with by hospitals, GPs or other NHS services.
They are advised to raise their concerns with a hospital or surgery first, and if that is unsuccessful make a formal complaint to the primary care trust. They can also contact independent organisations such as the Patient Advice and Liaison Service or the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service.
We are seeing an increasing number of cases concerning elderly clients who have received inadequate treatment during their time in hospital.
If you have a similar issue and would like to make a complaint to the hospital, we have a dedicated team of clinical negligence solicitors who would be happy to advise you further. Call us for free initial advice on 0844 245 6602.
By clinical negligence specialist, Stacy Albrighton