15:43 13 September 2012
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has attacked the NHS for the treatment of patients on hospital wards, in particular the elderly, a report revealed on Wednesday. Doctors are concerned that staff shortages, mixed with a new culture of health issues, may jeopardize patient safety, according to the study.
The research states that hospital wards 'can't cope' with the number of elderly patients, as the amount of beds has fallen by 30per cent over the last two-and-half-decades. This goes in hand with the figure for serious illnesses, as A and E numbers have risen by 37per cent.
Elderly patients are thought to be being moved from their beds to other beds ‘like parcels’, according to RCP’s president Sir Richard Thompson.
He told the Mail Online: “This is no way to run a health service. One doctor told me his trust does not function well at night or at the weekend and he is ‘relieved’ that nothing catastrophic has happened when he arrives at work on Monday morning. Excellent care must be available to patients at all times of the day and night.”
Doctors are warning that patients are not being cared for properly during evenings and weekends, with some reports explaining that employment regulations, such as the European Working Time Directive, demand a healthy employee work-life balance.
Sir Richard also claimed patients moved wards during the night while wearing their pyjamas, and according to some reports others were discharged to free up beds - because they were placed on a specialist ward unnecessarily.
Despite hospitals stays being shorter because of an improvement in care, it is understood elderly patients present more complicated health problems than they did in the 1980s. The NHS is criticised for failing to adapt to the needs of the ageing population, in particular those with dementia it has been revealed.
Professor Tim Evans, an intensive care specialist & one of the report’s authors, said “this evidence is very distressing”, as quoted by the Mail Online. He also commented that the NHS should operate round-the-clock, with some hospitals who fail to deliver a satisfactory service could face closure.
Between 2005 and 2009 up to 1,200 people died, where most were thought to be elderly, at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust due to a supposed lapsed patient care system. The College Doctors are warning the UK would want to avoid a repetition of tragic events such as this.
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