Monday, 21 February 2011

What happened to the world's best health service?

Tonight on Channel 4 at 8pm TV reporter Mark Sparrow reveals The Truth About Hospital Food. It is his photograph that heads this post and is one example, he says, of the “disgusting” meals served in hospitals which are leaving patients “malnourished.” Their food is bad enough but if you have an elderly relative in hospital you can’t be certain that they are being fed it.
Health Service ombudsman Ann Abraham last week published a damning report on her investigation into complaints about the care of older people in the NHS.
She found the “accounts present a picture of NHS provision that is failing to respond to the needs of older people...and to provide even the most basic standards of care.”
The elderly account for a disproportionately high number of complaints annually. “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,” Abraham concluded.
Just what she complained about was shockingly illustrated by the article Cause of death: the NHS in yesterday’s Sunday Times. The accompanying blurb read: “Having watched her grandparents and father die in pain and squalor in hospital, the DJ Liz Kershaw demands an end to NHS ageism.”
From its creation after the Second World War right into the 1960s and beyond, our boast was that Britain had the best health service in the world.
Ignore the bedpan humour, you get a feel for what it was like in the Carry On and Doctor in the House movies. In Michael Caine’s title role Alfie he recovers from TB in a NHS sanatorium. Well, these days battle-axe matrons demanding the highest standards of patient care are an extinct breed. To be charitable let’s assume nurses are no longer angels because of their workload.
Of course there are glorious exceptions. But even allowing that MRSA is in retreat, a hospital stay is generally dreaded as much as the disease or accident that requires it.
Perhaps the rot started with Mrs Thatcher and the introduction of market forces. New Labour spent heavily on the NHS but there was little point in opening new wards if there wasn’t the money to staff them.
The system is bursting at the seams under the pressure of ever-increasing numbers and costs.
Now we have the Coalition shifting the emphasis of the health service in England on to GPs. I don’t see how that is going to prevent an elderly patient from getting bedsores – or poorly fed.

1 comment:

  1. GC. It never occurred to me thay some hospitals do not cook their patients' meals on the premises.


What do you think? GC