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A contagion of cruelty that taints the health service

The shocking revelations from Alexandra Hospital in Redditch call for a “back to basics” approach to nursing
Nursing should recruit people with a spirit of compassion, but it must also be reinforced by training

Telegraph View, The Daily Telegraph

A different kind of Dickensian scene confronts us this Christmas, not associated with good cheer, but reminiscent of the Victorian workhouse, as the appalling conditions that formerly prevailed at Alexandra Hospital in Redditch are exposed after a huge legal action by bereaved families of patients. Starvation, dehydration, cruelty and incompetence all feature these shocking revelations. They are a far cry from the idealized image of traditional British nursing that was projected at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. At the same time, while deploring this lethal lapse in standard, we should bear in mind that it is far from representative. In hospitals across Britain, dedicated doctors and nurses are caring for patients with a combination of professionalism and compassion that is inspirational.

Hospital apologises to 38 families for appalling care that saw a patient starve to death and it left other dying people screaming in pain

Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Alexandra Hospital in Redditch is writing to 38 families after a massive legal action that exposed years of bad practice, ranging from nurses taunting patients to leaving an elderly woman unwashed for 11 weeks. In one of the worst cases, a man had starvation recorded as the cause of his death after being treated at the hospital for two months.

Victims of neglect at the Alexandra Hospital

Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent and Josie Ensor

The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Mrs. Bridle was left to lie in her own filth for 11 weeks after she was admitted. Her son, Peter, begged the nurses to help his mother into the bath, only to be told they were “too busy”. “My mother stopped wanting us to come to the hospital, not because she didn’t want to see us but because she was embarrassed, humiliated that she was lying in her own filth. She was a proud woman who didn’t want us to see her like that,” Mr. Bridle said. Mr. Bridle, 68, said his mother was also left virtually deaf because staff failed to help her put in her hearing aid.

Doctors too often careless and insincere when talking to patients: Ombudsman

Doctors and health-care staff have been criticized as offering insincere apologies and being careless in their conversations with patients as one man told not to be a “baby” when he feared having a general anaesthetic

Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor, The Daily Telegraph

The NHS received 150,859 complaints between 2011 and 2012. Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said there needed to be a “shift in attitude” after complaints rose. “All too often the people who come to us for help are unhappy because of the careless communication, insincere apologies and unclear explanations they’ve received from the NHS,” she said. “A poor response to a complaint can add to the problems of someone who is unwell, struggling to take care of others or grieving. The NHS needs to get better at listening to patients and their families and responding to their concerns.”

Elderly are humiliated by nurses, warns report

Too many nurses are robbing elderly people of their dignity by treating them as children and stripping them of independence, a commission is to warn

Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph

The landmark report is expected to say that staff in hospitals and care homes are humiliating older people by feeding them to save time – rather than helping those who need it – issuing orders about what they should wear and when they must go to bed. Senior managers, charities and council chiefs have made a series of recommendations designed to stamp out discrimination of the elderly as well as neglect and abuse. Evidence to their commission heard the devastating effect of poor care, with older people describing how their skills, self-confidence, and ability to look after themselves deteriorated in response to the way they were treated. The report will say that institutions need to do more to help older people maintain their identity, especially when they are adjusting to major changes in their circumstances, such as the loss of a partner, or the move into hospital or a care home.