The families of 38 people who suffered “appalling” failings in care from Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospital Trust say it must never happen again.
Written apologies have been issued to each of the families involved in the legal action which brought 35 cases against Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and three against Worcestershire Royal Hospital following a report by health watchdog Care Quality Commission in March 2011.
One of the worst cases saw an 84-year-old man starve to death at the Alexandra Hospital in June 2009.
Among those receiving an apology are the family of 73-year-old Colin White, who was admitted to the Alexandra in July 2009.
His daughter Kim, from Gloucester, said there was “no respect or dignity” for her father during his stay at the hospital. She says her father was not fed properly, doctors and nurses were uncommunicative, and on one occasion he was left lying in soiled bedding.
Miss White said: “All we ever wanted was an apology, and the acknowledgement that my father was treated appallingly.
“We also didn’t want anyone else to go through the hell that my father went through.”
Former nurse Patricia Brindle, aged 86, was left unwashed for 11 weeks after being admitted in February 2008, despite her son Peter claiming he begged nurses for her to be bathed.
Mr Brindle, of Redditch, said: “Nobody was doing their job, nobody could be bothered to take a bed pan in for my mother – this woman who had worked all her life, been a nurse, and never transgressed the law.
“She only had the misfortune to have a stroke and be left at the mercy of people who did just not give a damn.”
Mrs Brindle was transferred to another hospital but died a few days later.
Other incidents, which all took place between 2002 and 2011, saw an elderly woman went unwashed for 11 weeks, a man who could not feed himself taunted by nurses, a man whose ribs were broken while hospital staff attempted to lift him, and a great-grandmother whose hip fracture went undetected.
The trust has also agreed to pay compensation totalling £410,000, after accepting the standard of care it provided to elderly patients fell well short of the minimum.
STATEMENT FROM THE TRUST
“Everyone at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust is committed to providing the highest quality of care for all our patients. The recent media coverage of the trust following an out of court settlement (prompted by a CQC inspection almost two years ago) does not reflect the standard of care being delivered at our acute hospitals today. A status confirmed by the subsequent CQC inspection in September 2011 which confirmed the trust met every CQC standard. “A new management team has overseen a series of changes and implemented a range of quality improvements to address any previous shortfalls. This has included being one of the first hospitals to take part in a pilot survey that is now being rolled out nationally. This survey asks patients and their families about the care they have received from the trust and to date the results have consistently put it in the top 25 per cent of more than 40 acute hospitals in the NHS Midlands and East region. Last week (December 14, 2012) eight wards at the Alexandra Hospital scored a maximum 100 per cent).
“Today, the three hospitals within Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust have the sixth best standard hospital mortality index (SHMI) in the Midlands and East Strategic Health Authority based on 2012/13 figures which put the figure at 97 – which is below the national average.
“The improvements in care have been achieved through a range of activities, including hourly care and comfort rounds from senior nurses who check on all patients needs on the ward. “A focus on skin care has also seen a significant reduction in pressure ulcers, and improved the comfort of patients. These Care and Comfort rounds were praised by inspectors from West Midlands Quality Review Service (WMQRS) for the care they provide for vulnerable adults. The report by the WMQRS team who visited the Alexandra and Worcestershire Royal Hospitals in September 2011 said of the Care and Comfort Rounds that “Much work had been undertaken across the trust in raising awareness of caring for vulnerable adults. Audits have shown improvements in the delivery of aspects of care across all hospital sites. “Patients spoken to by reviewers were all appreciative of the care they had received and Staff were found to be committed and knowledgeable.”
Further improvements include the introduction of more than 200 dignity champions across the Trust with each ward now having a mealtime coordinator to ensure hands are washed and patients are in the correct position to eat. Meal times are also ‘protected’ allowing nurses to concentrate on helping patients cut up food and eat and also ensure patients who are absent from the ward and miss a meal are offered alternative food.”