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Continuing concerns over treatment and care of elderly patients

Guardian reports on widespread lack of dignified care for many elderly patients

Posted on 10 October 2011

The Guardian has reported that, in advance of the publication of the Care Quality Commission’s unannounced inspection findings next week, a large proportion of elderly patients in hospital are not receiving proper nutritional care, and that a large percentage of hospitals are also failing to provide dignified care towards their older patients.

The Guardian reported that the CQC inspected 100 hospitals with 49 of the inspections giving cause for concern about the nutritional standards for elderly people, including the way in which these vulnerable patients were given food and water. 

Emma Jones is a specialist in treatment of the elderly and abuse claims.  She recently visited patients or relatives of patients treated at a hospital that was criticised  in a CQC report in May 2011.

Emma says:

“Having just returned from a trip to Redditch to speak with people about treatment and care they or their relatives received at the Alexandra Hospital I was already concerned about the treatment and care received by some elderly patients.  I was saddened to read the piece in the Guardian that sets out that a number of hospitals could be providing better care to their elderly patients. It is clear that changes must be made to the way in which we care for elderly patients. "
The CQC report dated May 2011 stated that staff at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch told inspectors that they sometimes had to prescribe drinking water on medication charts to "ensure people get regular drinks". One elderly patient was noted as malnourished on admission but not reassessed until 16 days later. Patients were not weighed when they should have been. Inspectors 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". The inspectors concluded that patients were "at risk of poor nutrition and dehydration".

Frances Swaine and Emma Jones in the human rights team at Leigh Day & Co represented over 110 elderly people and their families who suffered appalling standards of care at Stafford Hospital, successfully securing significant sums of compensation for them. An official enquiry by the Healthcare Commission into the failings at Stafford Hospital in March 2009 estimated that between 400 and 1200 mostly elderly people died unnecessarily between 2005 and 2008 because of the poor care, neglect and abuse they received.

Emma Jones says "We must take care that such a situation never happens again."

If you would like to speak to a lawyer please contact Emma on 020 7650 1200 for a free initial consultation.