Many NHS Nurses Are Still the Finest in the World. but They Let My Poor Father Die in Agony like a Dog; as a Report Reveals the Shocking Treatment of Elderly Patients
Byline: by Steve Boggan
BAD nurses will be purged from the NHS after a report detailed shocking cruelty towards the elderly. The study by the Patients' Association said up to a million people had suffered poor care over the past five years.
It gave harrowing examples of 'cruel' and 'demeaning' treatment, including patients left lying in soiled bedclothes, having personal alarms confiscated and having to go without food or drink.
The Government's chief nursing officer, Christine Beasley, said nurses who offer very poor levels of care should be struck off the medical register and banned from working in the NHS.
Agony aunt and former nurse Claire Rayner, president of the Patients' Association, said she was 'sickened' by what had happened.
She said: 'We need the professional bodies to be much tougher with their members. They must make it absolutely clear that they will not tolerate poor service, and strike them off the register, which is a very, very powerful thing to do -- they can't work again.' The Daily Mail has highlighted the poor quality of NHS care for many elderly people, in particular the risk of malnutrition because many are not helped to eat.
Critics say too much training takes place in college rather than at the bedside, with the result that too many nurses see helping frail patients as demeaning.
Last year, 210 nurses were struck off the register entirely, 68 were suspended and 126 were cautioned. The number of complaints has soared over the past five years.
But the report stressed that the vast majority of patients are happy with the care they or their families have received on the NHS, with 43 per cent of those questioned describing it as 'excellent'. Only 2 per cent said their care was poor.
Comment - Page 14 ON THE morning of the last day of his life, my sister and I found my father covered in blood and faeces, twisted grotesquely in his hospital bed. He was wearing an oxygen mask into which his false teeth had fallen, and the plaintive look in his eyes -- a look that still keeps me awake at night -- said he was in terrible pain.
For a moment, we froze. And so did the nurse making the bed next to his. It wasn't visiting time and she was clearly mortified to see us, to see the looks of puzzlement and horror on our faces. 'How can you leave him like that?' we asked, pointing at my father. 'Can't you see he's in pain?' But the nurse said nothing.
We rushed to my father's fetid bedside and I cradled his head as my sister, Marie, a former nurse, reached for his medical chart. She asked him whether he had been given his morning dose of morphine. Brian -- I always called him by his Christian name -- shook his head and said simply: 'Pain.' Marie challenged the nurse, asking whether she had administered any pain relief. 'Yes, of course,' came the initial reply. And then -- I don't know why; possibly guilt, possibly the last vestige of a sense of vocation -- the nurse said: 'No!' and ran down the ward with my sister in pursuit.
Marie returned with my father's morphine, I gave it to him and we spent the next hour cleaning him and changing his sheets. And on that day, April 2, 2007, this was the best hour he would get. His care would deteriorate, his dignity would vanish and he would die screaming in agony.
It had taken only 17 days from his being diagnosed with cancer of the liver and lung for Brian to die, and we had come to suspect it would end like this. Until that sudden and unexpected diagnosis, he had been a healthy ox of a man; a 6ft 2in-tall, young-looking 72-year-old whom we liked to think looked a little like the Hollywood actor James Garner.
He had been on three wards at Southport General Hospital in the elegant seaside town north of Liverpool.
The hospital is bright and clean and, at first, the staff were kind and attentive. But as his condition worsened and he began to fade away, it was as if he became invisible. …