Hospital patients complain of rude staff, lack of compassion and long waits
The problems of long waits including delays in being moved between different hospital departments were raised in the Patient Opinion survey. Photograph: bildagentur-online/begsteiger/Alamy
The NHS’s quality of care is under fresh scrutiny after a survey of patients found one in five had experienced problems such as rude staff, a lack of compassion and long waits for treatment.
The findings from Patient Opinion, an online service enabling people to comment on their care, come a week after the health service ombudsman severely criticised the poor NHS treatment of older patients.
Patient Opinion, which is partly funded by hospitals and the NHS Choices website, found that 2,537 of the 11,982 comments it received between 2005 and 2010 were negative. It analysed the 537 most critical responses to reveal the details of the worst failings of NHS care.
The main issues were:
• Staff were rude, arrogant or lazy or had a negative attitude.
• A lack of care and compassion, such as staff not doing enough to ensure the patient was comfortable.
• Staff not keeping patients well informed.
• Inadequate response to requests or complaints.
• Long waits before or between appointments, including delays in being moved between different departments.
These cases also saw patients complaining about problems with the environment in which they were treated, such as poor food or night time noise, poor health outcomes, cleanliness, staffing levels and dignity. However, there were 3,971 positive comments and 5,474 mixed comments from patients during 2005-10.
The claims of seriously inadequate care included the case of a women who had an emergency caesarean section at St Thomas’ hospital in central London last year.
She said: “My experience of post-natal care was so bad [that] I have had to undergo counselling and I am reluctant to try for another baby. It took me 10 months to bond with my daughter.” Staff were “rude and uncaring”, her pleas for pain relief went unheard and no one replied when she rang her bell, she said.
“I am crying just thinking about how awful I found the midwives who treated me during my stay,” the woman, a lawyer, told Patient Opinion. “It was the worst experience of my life and it devastates me that the rude and uncaring staff I met have left me resentful towards my daughter and reluctant to set foot in an NHS maternity ward ever again.”
Lynne Pacanowski, the hospital’s director of midwifery and head of gynaecology nursing, posted a response on the wesbite in which she sought to assure the woman that progress was being made to tackle the issues she had raised.
Jo Webber, deputy director of policy at the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals, said NHS organisations needed to learn from the survey and from other feedback. “Organisational culture and the attitudes of staff are absolutely vital parts of delivering better care,” she said. “Improving standards has to start with staff because regulation and spot checks cannot stop all instances of poor care.”
Paul Burstow, the care services minister, said: “This survey demonstrates exactly why we need to update our NHS. Our plans will ensure patient experience is captured and then used to inform patient choice and drive improvements throughout the service”. The planned new HealthWatch consumer health champion would give patients across England a strong voice, he said.
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices, a coalition of patient charities, said: “Patient Opinion is part of a growing movement in which people are exerting a stronger voice in health care. When NHS staff also really engage with patient feedback and act on it, the result is higher quality care, greater satisfaction with services and better value for money.”
Sources : Guardian-Health