Care and compassion, a newly published report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman details ten investigations into complaints about the standard of care provided to older people by the NHS. The complaints, which concerned the care of ten people over the age of 65, related to NHS trusts across England and two GP practices.

In the report the experiences of these individuals are considered in light of the principles of fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy that are reflected in the NHS Constitution.  

The report states that:

“The investigations reveal an attitude – both personal and institutional – which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality of the people concerned and to respond to them with sensitivity, compassion and professionalism. The reasonable expectation that an older person or their family may have of dignified, pain-free end of life care, in clean surroundings in hospital is not being fulfilled. Instead, these accounts present a picture of NHS provision that is failing to meet even the most basic standards of care.”

The report shows how the older patients suffered unnecessary pain, indignity and distress whilst in the care of the NHS. In particular the report highlights some common failures in relation to pain control, discharge arrangements, communication with patients and their relatives and ensuring adequate nutrition.

The Report concludes that “An impetus towards real and urgent change, including listening to older people, taking account of feedback from families and learning from mistakes is needed.”