Thursday, 13 October 2011

Abusing old people

The revelations about the way old people are being abused in many NHS hospitals is truly disgusting. Can there be any better case for reform and for opening up provision of services to more providers like charities and social enterprises? And what better case for strengthening the power of Health Watch?

In my report on choice and competition in the NHS I argued for the introduction of a Right to Challenge for citizens. The CQC inspection report showing one in 5 hospitals breaking the law in their treatment of old people makes the case for his new right and the need for action to put it in place.

This would give us as citizens, carers and family of patients the right to say to a hospital that is failing to provide decent standards of care that we want a different provider.

Listening to the various professionals on Today this morning was an unappetising experience; the excuses and weasly words that try to cover over behaviour that is simply unacceptable.

Let's see the NHS take action to change. And the professional organisations in the service need to stop bleating about competition and the health bill and turn their attention to stamping out this abuse. If the NHS hospitals that have been exposed here cannot provide basic standards of care then other providers should. And what better case for the many Acevo members who work in care for older people and who want to see more care in the community to expand their work. Many older people stay in hospitals for too long because community care is inadequate. Not enough attention is paid to alternative ways of providing support at home or in the community. Palliative care needs to be provided by the third sector, not generally in hospitals.

I was in the House of Lords yesterday for a Reform round table led by Baroness Cumberledge and Nick Seddon, which just followed on from the Government winning the vote on the Bill. We were talking about long term conditions, like diabetes, and the need for reform in the way we deliver care.

10% of the entire NHS budget is spent on diabetes care. 2.8m people being supported- poorly. Almost 40% of diabetes patients are in bad control. Often the patient is not in control of their care. The CQC report simply highlights the need for radical change in our care and health services which we already know from the way in which we prioritise acute care over community.

Its time we moved on from the arguments on the health Bill to addressing the fundamental issues that face our care and health service. Unless we look at a major expansion of the role of different providers I don't see how we will get the changes we so obviously need. Competition and expanding the work of the third sector is one way we can drive innovation, better care and help shake up the culture of a service that often puts the needs of the staff above that of the patients they care for.

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