03 July 2012
The Government has published the first survey of its kind involving 22,000 bereaved relatives to find out the level of care for dying patients.
Half of bereaved relatives say nurses did not always treat their loved ones with dignity in their final days, a report has found.
It has raised yet further concerns that hospitals are failing to look after the elderly or terminal-ill patients at the end of their lives. Only yesterday it emerged that a 22-year-old cancer patient had died of dehydration at a leading hospital having tried to call 999 from his bed.
Half of bereaved relatives say nurses did not always treat their loved ones with dignity in their final days, a report has found just one day after it emerged that cancer patient Kane Gorny (pictured with his mother) had died of dehydration at a leading hospital having tried to call 999 from his bed
An inquest heard how Kane Gorny spent his final days in discomfort and agony at the hands of ‘lazy and careless’ staff at St George’s Hospital, South London.
Now the Government has published the first survey of its kind involving 22,000 bereaved relatives to find out the level of care for dying patients. It reveals that only 48 per cent of patients were always treated with dignity and respect by nurses in hospital, according to their relatives. And it also implies that terminally-ill or elderly patients in hospital receive far poorer care than those in hospices or care homes.
Nearly two-thirds of relatives said their loved ones were in pain while they were in hospitals – as staff did not do enough to try and relieve it. By comparison only 38 per cent of the relatives of patients in hospices were in pain and 55 per cent of those in care homes. And just 30 per cent of patients who died in hospital were given a choice about where they ended their lives, according to relatives. This compared to two-thirds of those who died in a hospice.
The report has raised yet further concerns that hospitals are failing to look after the elderly or terminal-ill patients at the end of their lives (file picture)
Imelda Redmond, director of Policy and Public Affairs, at Marie Curie Cancer Care said: ‘Hospitals are letting people down at a crucial time and this poor care is leaving behind memories of loved ones being treated with little dignity and respect, and dying in pain. This is simply not good enough.
‘Families have told us, in large numbers, that their loved ones do not always get the care they need or deserve at the end of life.
‘There is no reason why we can’t provide a dignified and respectful death, regardless of setting, location or diagnosis. It is now time to learn from these findings and make improvements.’
And Eve Richardson, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters Coalition said: ‘It’s a real concern that the quality of care people who are dying receive appears to vary so hugely, with hospitals performing especially badly.
‘There is absolutely no excuse for not treating people who are dying with dignity and respect, which is why it is disturbing that hospital staff appear to be failing to do this consistently.’
The survey was sent to the relatives of patients who had recently died in hospital, a care home, a hospice or their own home. They were asked a series of questions about the standards of care in their final three months.
But the findings will prompt yet further concerns over the standard of nursing care, particularly for elderly patients.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron ordered nurses to speak to every patient on their ward once an hour to ensure they were not in pain or discomfort. His intervention followed a spate of damning reports revealing how patients were frequently being left hungry, thirsty and in agony.
Care services minister Paul Burstow said: ‘All people, regardless of their age or condition, should get the best quality care at the end of life.’
The 59 questions in the survey addressed a broad range of issues including co-ordination of care, patients’ involvement in decisions and support for carers.
External link: download the full report from the Office of National Statistics
See Dignity in Dying blog on the report.