Older individuals in NHS care suffering in silence, says overall health services ombudsman

Dame Julie Mellor, the parliamentary and health service ombudsman

Dame Julie Mellor, the parliamentary and wellness services ombudsman. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

Older men and women may be “struggling in silence” underneath NHS care since they are reluctant to complain about the care they get, the parliamentary and wellness services ombudsman for England has said.

Dame Julie Mellor believes above-65s either concern a backlash if they raise troubles or will not like producing fuss, that means watchdogs are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of critical failings.

“Older folks are some of the most regular consumers of the NHS but they are much less very likely to complain about remedy and care when specifications slip to unacceptable levels,” Mellor explained in an report for the Day-to-day Mail on Monday.

“Our analysis displays that a quarter of older men and women never know the place to go to complain about the NHS, despite using the support much more frequently than folks underneath 65. Complaints are a gift to the NHS because that is how improvements are accomplished. Older individuals should be encouraged to complain and taken significantly when they do.”

Mellor said: “Nearly 80% of all the investigations we carry out are about NHS services. Even even though virtually half of NHS care and solutions are given to older people, only a third of the health complaints we investigate are about the care of older individuals.

“Of the situations we do see, there are frequent themes operating by means of complaints about the care of older people,” the ombudsman stated. “Misdiagnosis, personnel attitudes, poor communication with sufferers and households, substandard nutrition, and individuals not currently being treated with dignity, just to title a few.”

Calling for a “cultural shift in the way” complaints are dealt with across the well being and social care technique, Mellor said: “More needs to be carried out to tackle the toxic cocktail of reluctance by individuals, carers and families to complain, and a defensive response from the NHS when they do.”

In an interview with the Guardian final yr, Mellor accused hospital boards of “not understanding from their patients’ experience to avoid problems from taking place again”, warning that failure to listen sufficiently to individuals and discover from their complaints – as occurred in the scandal at the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust – was not exceptional.

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