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NHS Ombudsman Report ‘Could Be The Tip Of The Iceberg’

Serious Action Demanded On Elderly Care


Experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell have called for serious action to be taken to ensure NHS standards improve following the publication of a new report which condemns the quality of care offered to the elderly.

The Care and Compassion? report from the NHS Ombudsman is based on conclusions raised from ten independent investigations into care for over-65s and reveals how patients have suffered a catalogue of problems – from failures in pain control to poor levels of communication with family members.

Each of the case studies also flags how vulnerable patients suffered from inadequate nutrition during care and experienced issues which led them to suffer both indignity and major distress.

Irwin Mitchell regularly provides advice and support to the families of elderly patients who have suffered from serious neglect at the hands of NHS staff, with the law firm regularly calling for improvements in safety standards and the acknowledgement of patients’ rights.

Jonathan Peacock, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office who has a wealth of experience of cases of elderly neglect, said: “Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this report is that it has also been revealed almost a fifth of complaints made to the Ombudsman last year were focused on the care received by older people.

“That means this new research could just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of failures being seen in the NHS across the country.

“We see so many of the same cases of elderly patient neglect again and again, and it is completely unacceptable that such people should be victim to such serious, incomprehensible failings.

“It is not unfair to say that the lack of decent care for the elderly can amount to abuse of a vulnerable adult. The Human Rights Act can be used to educate professionals and enforce elderly people’s rights to respect for their dignity – which in the end just amounts to a decent and proper level of care and attention.

“Enough is simply enough, patient safety needs to be a priority if such errors are going to become a thing of the past. The NHS complaints system is clearly failing in what should be its primary goal of driving healthcare improvements.

“Another issue of concern is that the removal of public funding from civil cases against the NHS - which the government is currently consulting on - will leave vulnerable elderly patients like those highlighted in this study with even less protection and less opportunity for them and their families to hold the NHS to account.”