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Elderly Britons endure ‘harrowing’ hospital plight

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A senior figure monitoring Britain’s National  Health Service (NHS) detailed “harrowing” cases of the neglect of elderly  patients in a report released Tuesday.

One patient died without her husband by her side because he had been  “forgotten” in a waiting room, Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham reported.    Another was left in urine-soaked clothes held together with paper clips.    And half the the people studied in her report had not received adequate  food and water during their hospital stay.

The state health service was “failing to meet even the most basic standards  of care”, said Abraham after in-depth review of 10 serious complaints against  the NHS.    Some patients were not given help eating and bathing while others were left  distressed after mismanagement of their discharge from hospital.

One cancer patient, who was too dehydrated to speak, was left in pain and  in need of the toilet for several hours while waiting for his daughter to pick  him up so he could return home to die.    “These often harrowing accounts should cause every member of staff who  reads this report to pause and ask themselves if any of their patients could  suffer in the same way,” Abraham said.    “I know from my caseload that in many cases the answer must be ‘yes’,” she  added.    British charities urged the government to consider the report’s findings  and take action.

“The inhumane treatment of older people described in this report is  sickening and should send shockwaves through the NHS and government,” Michelle  Mitchell, of Age UK, said.    Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the  findings mirrored their own research findings.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the cases  were “completely unacceptable,” but defended the health service.    “It is of course important to put these 10 examples in perspective. The NHS  sees over a million people every 36 hours and the overwhelming majority say  they receive good care,” he said.

London, Feb 15, 2011 (AFP)