THE day after a report saying Prince Charles had implored doctors and nurses to be more caring, another newspaper article told us Alexandra Hospital in Redditch is writing to 38 families after a massive legal action exposed years of bad practice ranging from nurses taunting a man who could not feed himself by taking away his food uneaten to leaving an elderly woman unwashed for 11 weeks.
Another patient wasted away because nurses did not know how to fit a feeding tube, while a grandmother was left permanently unable to walk after doctors failed to diagnose a fractured hip.
The worst case is said to be that of a man who had starvation recorded as the cause of his death after being treated at the hospital for two months.
While those who have direct contact with patients should be more considerate and understanding, Prince Charles’s comments should also apply to everyone in the NHS. By that I mean everyone from executives to admin staff.
I cannot help but wonder, for example, if like some of our executives, those at the Alexandra Hospital claimed on their websites they were dedicated to providing the highest standards and levels of health care for patients.
If the top management in our hospitals really do care about patients, why is it that almost every day there are reports of patients dying of starvation and dehydration, wrong diagnosis and drug dosage, bed sores, infection and being left to die for hours in beds soaked in urine or faecal matter?
I once had occasion to write a letter of complaint to the Chief Nursing Officer of a major hospital group. Whether she was actually aware of what she wrote I do not know, but it became very clear from her reply that she rarely if ever went on the wards.
If people at this level never leave their offices to see what is happening at the coal face, as it were, then is it any wonder that standards are so poor and patients are dying unnecessarily and often in great pain?
People do not get ill for the fun of it and when we do, those employed to care for us should realise we want treating with care, compassion and dignity.