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Saturday, 17 December 2011

NHS dementia

Photograph: Wpa Pool/Getty Images

All smiles but the reality is different. The latest depressing report illustrates the plight of patients in NHS hospitals with dementia. Can anyone be surprised? There have been endless reports of problems in the NHS and care homes where nurses don't care as they should followed by promises to do something about it but the chances are, unless you are one of the privileged few, you have a high chance of dying in misery in a care home or hospital, disorientated, dirty, dehydrated and thoroughly depressed. Yes, there are pockets of excellence which politicians and the fortunate praise as shining example of the modern NHS but they are far outweighed by reports of poor care by people who seem to regard patients as fodder simply to keep them employed with the minimum of effort. Read about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.... . The reports are endless. In January 2010 Michael Parkinson in his role as the government's dignity ambassador condemned standards in care homes and hospitals as "downright unacceptable". In January 1999 a two-year campaign to improve "shocking levels of ill treatment" for elderly people in hospital began but we are still reading about it more than twelve years later.

This from a former dedicated nurse: "What has happened to basic nursing care, to observation, to humanity? Excuses citing undermanned wards, overworked staff simply will not do. If we were short staffed we worked twice as hard to ensure patient comfort. Nursing has never been an "easy job", working long hours without overtime pay, sacrificing a social life are just a few examples encountered but the rewards were so good, seeing patients get well and return home, which was surely why nursing was chosen by many, when vocation was an easily understood word."

There is nothing to smile about. The system has failed. Government ministers should stop talking it up and get back to basics. The old system worked so get nurses out of college and back on the wards to learn patient care, hands on.

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