That Marvelous, Glorious, Utterly Magnificent National Health Service

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 27, 2009

Why did anyone think it would be a good idea to claim the NHS is a good thing?

In the last six years, the Patients Association claims hundreds of thousands have suffered from poor standards of nursing, often with ‘neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel’ treatment.

The charity has disclosed a horrifying catalogue of elderly people left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffering from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses and dismissive staff.

The Patients Association said the dossier proves that while the scale of the scandal at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust – where up to 1,200 people died through failings in urgent care – was a one off, there are repeated examples they have uncovered of the same appalling standards throughout the NHS.

While the criticisms cover all aspects of hospital care, the treatment and attitude of nurses stands out as a repeated theme across almost all of the cases.

They have called on Government and the Care Quality Commission to conduct an urgent review of standards of basic hospital care and to enforce stricter supervision and regulation.

Claire Rayner, President of the Patients Association and a former nurse, said:“For far too long now, the Patients Association has been receiving calls on our helpline from people wanting to talk about the dreadful, neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel treatment their elderly relatives had experienced at the hands of NHS nurses.

“I am sickened by what has happened to some part of my profession of which I was so proud.

“These bad, cruel nurses may be – probably are – a tiny proportion of the nursing work force, but even if they are only one or two percent of the whole they should be identified and struck off the Register.”

No health care system is perfect, of course, but the NHS seems to have more than its share of problems. The details of the neglect are utterly sickening to read.

Again, I am well aware of the fact that no one seriously seeks to replicate the NHS in the United States. But seeing as how this actually became an issue for debate, it is worth noting–repeatedly, if necessary–that the NHS is no prize.

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