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More than 160 complaints a day about the care of elderly and vulnerable adults are being lodged with the watchdog, figures reveal.
Inspectors at the Care Quality Commission are also turning up at nursing homes to find residents crying out in distress, ignored by staff.
Yesterday the chief inspector of social care at the CQC warned that increasing pressure on cash-strapped services was turning ‘good people into bad carers’.
Andrea Sutcliffe said that some employees ‘end up being the sort of worker that you wouldn’t want them to be’.
Councils across England are having to slash their budgets for social care, which includes nursing homes and home help, just when demand is growing as the population ages.
Figures from the CQC released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the number of complaints concerning social care doubled between 2011 and 2015.
A total of 30,222 were lodged in the first six months of this year – the equivalent of 166 a day – and the majority involved care homes for the elderly. This compares to 30,911 for the entire 12 months of 2011.
Officials said the rise was partly down to increased public awareness following high-profile reports of abuse in homes.
Meanwhile harrowing reports from inspectors at the CQC reveal that some elderly residents are being left in their beds in care homes for hours after waking up.
One published last week into the Birdsgrove Nursing Home, near Bracknell in Berkshire, reads: ‘We spoke with a person who was still in bed in night clothes.
‘It was mid-morning and they told the inspector they had been awake since 7am and were waiting for staff to help move them to their chair, wash them and help them get dressed.
‘We left the room and shortly afterwards heard them shouting for help. The person was in very obvious distress and their shouts for help were loud enough for any staff nearby to hear them. No staff responded to the calls for help.’
Mrs Sutcliffe, who became chief inspector of adult social care in 2013, said that much good work was being done in the system ‘despite the cuts’. But in an interview with The Observer, she said staff were increasingly feeling undervalued and demoralised.
‘That potentially means that they may leave, but it also may mean that they end up being the sort of care worker that you wouldn’t want them to be because the system isn’t supportive,’ she added.
‘The social care sector is certainly under stress and strain. And it is a combination of all sorts of factors – the increased number of people who need support, the increased complexity of their needs.’
The Daily Mail has long called for an improvement to the care of older people as part of our Dignity for the Elderly campaign.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Abuse and neglect are completely unacceptable, and whatever the cause we are determined to stamp them out.
‘We need to understand what lies behind these figures – an increase in awareness and reporting of abuse is to be welcomed so that proper action can be taken.’
Source Mail Online
‘Pay close attention’
A revolution in the handling of NHS complaints has been proposed in a report co-authored by the MP Ann Clwyd, who has told how her own husband was treated with “coldness, resentment, indifference and contempt” on his hospital deathbed.
David Cameron commissioned the review into the issue, which has dogged the NHS for decades, following the Francis report into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. Robert Francis QC said problems could have been spotted earlier if staff had listened to the concerns of patients and relatives, who were often neglected and ignored.
Sitting beside Clwyd and co-author Professor Tricia Hart – a nurse turned NHS chief executive who was on the Francis inquiry – the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that he supported their call for change.
Hunt said that while it was clear from the Francis report that the first priority was to prevent poor care, when accidents do happen, “it is incredibly important to make sure we have a structure where people learn from mistakes and hospitals and care providers have a culture where there is openness and transparency”.
Previous inquiries into how complaints by patients and relatives have been handled in the NHS have gathered dust, but after “a decade of failure” Clwyd and Hart want urgent action and have commitments from key NHS organisations in England, including the Royal College of Nursing and the General Medical Council – which regulates doctors and oversees their training – as well as the Care Quality Commission and Monitor.
The review said complaints must be taken seriously at the very top of the NHS, with chief executives responsible for signing them off and trust boards scrutinising and evaluating them. Staff must be better trained to listen to patients. Hart called for “better, safer, kinder care so that fewer patients feel like they want to complain”.
But it must be made easier for patients and families to raise their concerns if they have any, the report said. Hospitals should consider putting a pen and paper by every bed and must ensure each patient knows who they can talk to.
Clwyd’s husband, former BBC journalist Owen Roberts, died in the University Hospital of Wales, which is not covered by the review of complaints in England. Clwyd said she has been in discussions with the hospital, however.
In an interview on BBC radio last December, Clwyd wept as she described her husband’s last hours, shivering under flimsy sheets, with an ill-fitting oxygen mask cutting into his face, wedged up against the bars of the hospital bed. He died, she said, “like a battery hen”.
At the report’s launch she told of her astonishment at the number of calls and letters she had received from people who had also suffered. “I had no idea it would open the floodgates in the way it did,” she said. “I wouldn’t have imagined some of the things people had to go through because they had lost a relative or friend and the difficulty they had when they felt they had to make a complaint.”
The review looked at 2,500 accounts of poor care and lack of compassion, in which staff were described as offhand, rude, impatient and callous.
One read: “No bathing, toileting, ensuring patients are hydrated and nourished and little sympathy and empathy.”
Describing the treatment of his mother, who had two broken wrists, one man said: “No one would feed her when meals were delivered, despite the fact that she had two arms strapped up in the air! My aunt had to travel over two hours every day just to ensure she was fed.”
Another wrote: “When visiting my wife … after an operation to mend her broken hip, I asked a nurse for help as she was being very, very sick. She announced, ‘I am a graduate. I don’t do sick’ and left me to deal with the situation.”
The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, said the NHS had “an unfortunate tendency to push complainants away and pull down the shutters. That has to change … NHS organisations should use complaints positively as part the drive to improve care.”
Burnham supported calls for a statutory “duty of candour” on individual staff who know they have made mistakes, as recommended by the Francis inquiry.
Clwyd and Hart support this in their review. Hunt said he was also in favour of a duty of candour, but for hospital trusts rather than a legal obligation on individual doctors and nurses.
But the patients’ charity Action against Medical Accidents, which has campaigned for this, said it feared the government would water down this commitment and bring it in only for the most severe cases.
This would, said chief executive Peter Walsh, “in effect, legitimise cover-ups of the vast majority of incidents which cause serious harm. It would kindle a culture of cover up and denial. Any complaints system worth its salt relies on honesty. It is also the bedrock of a patient safety culture”.
National Voices, the umbrella group for health and social care charities, agreed. Don Redding, its director of policy, said: “The new proposals would water down the good intentions formed since the appalling failures in Mid Staffordshire. Under the current plan, if you are caused ‘moderate’ harm, there will be no legal need to tell you, your family or your carer: this is not ethical, it is not person-centred and it is not the way to a transparent NHS.”
The learning disability charity Mencap, which has worked since 2007 with nearly 100 families who believe there are questions to answer over the death of a loved one, welcomed the review.
“Families have found the complaints process slow, bureaucratic and defensive,” said chief executive Janine Tregelles. “Many have been bereaved in traumatic circumstances, yet have waited years to reach some form of justice for their loved one.
“This culture of delay and defensiveness means the NHS has been failing to learn lessons and take the steps needed to prevent further avoidable deaths and serious incidents.”
Source The Guardian
Complaints against doctors have more than doubled in six years amid increasing demand on NHS services and rising expectations from patients, according to a new report.
Figures released by the General Medical Council show that 8,109 complaints were made against doctors in 2012 by both patients and colleagues.
The number of complaints was 24 per cent higher than the previous year, and 104 per cent greater than in 2007, according to the GMC which regulates 250,000 doctors across the UK.
Most of the complaints came from patients, or their friends and relatives, with the overall level of complaints by members of the public rising by 87 per cent to 5,014 between 2007 and 2012.
But there was also a significant rise in the number of reports received from doctors’ employers or colleagues calling their fitness to practise into question.
The GMC said the total number of complaints is small relative to the number of interactions between doctors and patients, and said the figures did not indicate a drop in standards.
The increase is down to higher expectations among patients and an increase in the number of doctors willing to speak out about others, they claimed.
“These patterns should be seen in the context of increasing patient expectations and demand for healthcare – one calculation suggests that there has been a 28 per cent increase since 2001,” the report said.
More than half of the complaints overall concerned clinical care, or both clinical care and communication with patients.
Among the complaints made by individual doctors, the most common issues raised were regarding a conflict of interest, or a colleague’s criminal conviction.
Members of the public aged 46 to 60 were the most likely to complain, and women were more likely to do so than men, while GPs were more likely than other doctors to be the subject of the complaint.
Male doctors attracted twice as many complaints as female doctors, with more than a fifth of male GPs receiving a complaint at some point between 2007 and 2013.
One third of all complaints made to the GMC met the criteria for a full investigation, but this was only true of one in five of the complaints submitted by patients or other members of the public.
In 2011 the GMC reported that there had been 8,781 complaints against doctors, but this figure included tentative enquiries which did not constitute an official complaint against a doctor. The figure for 2012 relates only to official complaints.
Prof Sir Peter Rubin, chair of the GMC, said: “Overall the standard of care that patients receive in the UK is good and doctors continue to deserve the trust and respect of the public.
“However what our report shows is that some patients don’t know where to go to raise a concern about their treatment and more needs to be done to help them raise issues.”
Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “The GMC’s findings should help reassure the public that concerns about care are being identified earlier, reported more often, and resolved more swiftly.”
Source The Telegraph
More hospitals in England are likely to be put in special measures, the health secretary has said as he unveiled the rescue plan for failing trusts.
Jeremy Hunt said the new inspection regime, which began its roll-out this week, would identify more trusts that needed turning around.
His comments came as he set out what support was being given to the 11 trusts already put in special measures.
Managers from top NHS hospitals are to be sent in to lend support.
Andrew Gwynne: “This is not the whole solution. We need to support nurses, clinicians, and support staff”
Bonus payments – from a pot totalling £5.5m – will be available to the successful trusts if standards are raised at failing sites, in a move that echoes the “super-heads” scheme for schools.
Mr Hunt said there were a “handful of inspirational leaders… anxious to help”.
He said that management consultants had been favoured in the past, but they had only identified problems – rather than solving them.
Instead, the buddy scheme would last between three to five years, and although he acknowledged the risk of diverting successful managers from their own hospitals, he said that managers’ posts would be back-filled.
But he admitted solving the problems would be difficult.
“Turning around our failing hospital is perhaps one of the biggest challenges we are facing today.
“It is entirely possible, even likely, other hospitals will have to go into special measures,” he added.
The 11 trusts in special measures have some common problems that with the help of the star performers in the system should be brought under control.
These include things such as staff shortages, poor IT systems and a lack of clear strategic thinking.
But for some – perhaps most of these trusts – the worry is that such changes will only take them so far.
You do not have to look far to see the major similarity between the failing trusts. They are mostly small, or at best, medium-sized district general hospitals.
Many argue that model is outdated and the future of care lies in larger, super centres – something the successful partner organisations could all claim to be.
The risk now is that the buddy scheme could once again delay attempts to radically overhaul the hospital network.
Dame Julie Moore, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham, is one of the managers taking part.
She told the BBC: “I don’t think we’re talking about upping sticks and abandoning our home base.”
Instead, the plan would be more focused on around sharing knowledge and expertise, particularly over IT, she said.
She added her organisation would have no problem attracting good managers to help plug the gaps.
The 11 trusts were placed in special measures after a review by NHS medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, which found evidence of patients being left unmonitored, backlogs in complaints and poor maintenance of operating theatres.
The review looked at the standard of care at the 14 trusts with the worst death rates, following the Stafford Hospital scandal.
Sir Bruce said while the failings were significant they had found nothing on the scale of the Stafford Hospital, where hundreds suffered neglect and abuse.
The 11 trusts in special measures have been given the following partners:
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland) – to be partnered with Northumbria
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, Goole and District Hospital and Scunthorpe General) – partner trust to be confirmed
Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – to be partnered with University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust – being partnered with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – to be partnered with the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – to be partnered with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust – to be partnered with Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust – to be partnered with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – being partnered with Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (specifically on complaints)
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust – to be partnered with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
Medway NHS Foundation Trust – partner trust to be confirmed
Steve Jamieson told the BBC that the College of Royal Nursing welcomed the government’s new initiative
Prof Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund think tank, said: “Bringing in experienced NHS managers has huge potential as long as they are given enough time to bring about change and have enough resources, and, crucially, their own hospitals are able to have the right leadership while their focus is elsewhere.”
He added that previous attempts to use the skills of managers at successful trusts had led to performance at those organisations being dragged down as hospitals were “much more complex than schools”.
He said: “We’ve got to get the detail right – it’s got to be a long-term objective.
“In principle if we get it right, it will level up standards, if we get it wrong it could level down standards.”
Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: “This is a management solution, not a front-line solution.
“What Keogh revealed was that many of these trusts have lost staff in recent years and what they need is more nurses on the ground.”
Source BBC News