Corporate report

Report of the Health Service Ombudsman on ten investigations into NHS care of older people

This document contains the following information: Care and Compassion?: report of the Health Service Ombudsman on ten investigations into NHS care of older people.

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Care and Compassion? : report of the Health Service Ombudsman on ten investigations into NHS care of older people fourth report of the Health Service Commissioner for England, session 2010-11 - Full Text

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This document contains the following information: Care and Compassion? : report of the Health Service Ombudsman on ten investigations into NHS care of older people fourth report of the Health Service Commissioner for England, session 2010-11

In this report, ‘Care and compassion?’ the Health Service Ombudsman says the NHS is failing to treat older people with care, compassion, dignity and respect.

The report is based on the findings of ten independent investigations into complaints about NHS care for people over the age of 65 across England. It serves to illuminate the gulf between the principles and values of the NHS Constitution and the felt reality of being an older person in the care of the NHS in England.

The Ombudsman’s findings show how ten older patients suffered unnecessary pain, indignity and distress while in the care of the NHS. Her investigations highlight common failures in pain control, discharge arrangements, communication with patients and their relatives and ensuring adequate nutrition.

These are not isolated cases. Of the nearly 9,000 properly made complaints to the Ombudsman about the NHS last year, 18 per cent were about the care of older people. The Ombudsman accepted twice as many cases for investigation about older people as for all other age groups put together.

The findings reveal an attitude - both personal and institutional - which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality of the people concerned and to respond to them with sensitivity, compassion and professionalism. These accounts present a picture of NHS provision that is failing to meet even the most basic standards of care. The NHS must close the gap between the promise of care and compassion outlined in its Constitution and the injustice that many older people experience.

This paper was laid before Parliament in response to a legislative requirement or as a Return to an Address and was ordered to be printed by the House of Commons.

Published 15 February 2011