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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Ombudsman's damning report of cruel neglect of vulnerable elderly patients in NHS hospitals and staff's callous indifference to their suffering

The Ombudsman's damning report of cruel neglect of vulnerable elderly patients in NHS hospitals and callous indifference to their suffering by staff employed to look after them has filled our newspapers and our broadcast media. See Telegraph report here, BBC report here, Guardian report here. We have many times over many years read of such horrors. Nothing appropriate is ever done about this atrocious cruelty by healthcare staff on their innocent fellow citizens - their patients, their victims. Read the Comments left beneath the newspaper articles and see other sickening examples of arrant cruelty by our highly-paid healthcare staff.

Since its inception the NHS has been protected from censure and sanction alike in matters of professional negligence. For decades its damaged victims were prohibited from even making a complaint! Then when complaints at last were permitted, the standard response to serious complaints was that the complainant was mistaken, lying, half-witted, mentally ill, trying to obtain compensation without cause, and similar nonsense directed toward attacking the complainant rather than investigating the complaint. Nothing was done about actually dealing with the complaints. And this is still the case.

In the intervening years it has become easier to make a complaint, but still nothing is done about the complaint, and the cases of negligence are increasing - inevitably, since the staff learn more and more surely, that they are unaccountable. The NHS Complaints Procedures are, and are designed to be, exercises in futility, and the Government is hoping to put an end to any scrap of justice for victims of medical negligence who go to Law by removing the possibility of legal aid in these cases.

As usual people who are ever-ready to defend the indefensible assure us that these flaws must be looked at in perspective, likewise assuring us that the vast majority of NHS patients are happy with their treatment. - Not remotely true, dear Reader. - That there are a lot of people ready to defend the NHS is not unconnected with the fact that the NHS is the largest employer in Europe, and so its employees and their dependants defend it. By contrast, read this Guardian article: "Half the patients treated in NHS hospitals are dissatisfied with the standard of care, a survey by the consumer organisation Which? reveals today. But it found few patients complain to NHS staff about inedible food, lack of cleanliness or poor organisation on the wards.

Among those who were dissatisfied, over a third thought raising an issue would not make any difference. Almost a quarter said nothing because they "expected their hospital stay to be like that" and 12% feared that a complaint would provoke reprisals and compromise their care.

Which? said doctors, managers and politicians interpreted the low level of complaints as evidence of patient satisfaction. But the survey suggested they were fooling themselves."