Friday 15 February 2013

Have we stopped listening to older people?

The headline in The Guardian on Tuesday 13th February said,

      “Francis Report shows we have stopped listening to older people.”

The Francis Report, published on 6th February 2013, sets out 290 recommendations for improvements in the NHS. This was in response to the neglect and unacceptably high death rate in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust hospitals.

One of those recommendations is that there needs to be more of a culture of care in the nursing profession.

I wonder how many experts it took to come to that conclusion. I hate to repeat myself but two years ago I was screaming - literally screaming because my Mum was being neglected! I was screaming about the fact that nurses in charge of caring for my mother, were not caring. From where I was sitting, standing or pacing up and down, they were not rushing around caring for other patients either. They were propping up their work station, chatting, drinking coffee, or they were nowhere to be seen. I accept that this was only one ward in a huge hospital but I saw it happening again and again and it infuriated me.

I blogged about my series of official complaints two years ago. I even got as far as two telephone interviews with the Chief Executive of the local NHS Trust. He had the grace to be shocked by my revelations, or perhaps this wasn’t grace. Perhaps it was political distancing. Was his reaction a part of the culture of fear highlighted in the Francis Report?
  • Let us stop, as a nation, being afraid to complain.

  • Let us start, as human beings, to listen sympathetically to the needs of others.

  • Let us hope that if we witness such neglect in the future, we can report it in the confident knowledge that there will be no repercussions on us or on our elderly, hospitalised relatives and that someone will listen, someone will care and someone will do something about it.

[I shall now step off my soap box and stop shouting... for the time being.]