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Elderly patients are being 'treated like animals' on NHS wards


Hospitals are treating the elderly 'like animals', according to a shock investigation.

Patients in their 80s and 90s have allegedly been left without pain relief, unable to wash and stuck in soiled sheets on overwhelmed NHS wards.

In one of the most harrowing examples, a 96-year-old man admitted to the hospital with a UTI was allegedly left delirious in his hospital bed — before choking on vomit after being sedated without his family's permission.

Meanwhile, a 99-year-old woman was left traumatised after being abandoned in a bed next to the body of a dead woman.

One doctor told The Independent, which carried out the probe, that 'undignified' treatment was 'symptomatic of a health service stretched to its limits'.

Experts fear the situation is only going to get worse, with rising numbers of patients suffering long delays or forced to sit on trolleys in hospital corridors as they wait for a bed.

The government was warned three times last year by coroners of the risk to elderly patients in hospital, The Independent reported.

In one Prevention of Future Deaths report, a coroner said there was an urgent need for more doctors to specialise in elderly care.

Another warned delayed discharges — so-called 'bed blockers, when patients are declared fit by doctors but not discharged — were putting the elderly at greater risk.

The newspaper also found over half of the 1.5million patients who were left waiting more than 12 hours to be seen in A&E last year in England were aged 70 and over.

Dr John Dean, clinical vice-president at the Royal College of Physicians, said the situation was 'heartbreaking'.

He added: 'Cases such as these are unacceptable and are sadly symptomatic of a health service stretched to its limits.'

Meanwhile, Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said the care of older people was 'undignified'.

Dr Vicky Price, president-elect of the Society for Acute Medicine, added: 'Older patients are increasingly receiving care well below the standards they should expect and that staff wish to provide but cannot due to the intense pressures.

'This includes being subject to long waits in waiting rooms and degrading corridor care which is regrettably becoming widespread and increases the likelihood of adverse outcomes for this patient group.'

In one case, Thomas Giles, 96, was allegedly left 'exposed to all passers-by, ill, semi-naked, distressed, delirious and neglected in care' during his two-month stay at Whiston Hospital in Lancashire.

According to his daughter, Dr Alison Giles, he initially spent eight hours in a hospital corridor before being moved to the ward for frail elderly people. He was suffering 'delirium' due to a UTI.

Over the course of a week, she also claimed he was sedated without his family's permission, which saw him choking on his own vomit, and was left with a wound dressing that was 'sopping wet and coming off because it is so saturated'.

She also claimed Mr Giles has told her 'some of the staff here are cruel' and 'I have never felt so hopeless'. She said he was 'treated like an animal'.

Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust said: 'Where patients don't feel our care has been good enough we encourage them to come forward and raise those concerns directly with the trust.

'We have been in ongoing contact with Mr Giles and his family and will respond in full to them around the concerns they have raised.'

In another case, 99-year-old Kathleen Hoddell attended A&E at Queens Hospital Burton in Derbyshire in early 2022 for fractures in her spine, weeks after she was allegedly sent home with just two paracetamols.

The following morning, her daughter Sally Ann Newstead, claimed she found her mother without any pain medication, no staff on the ward and forced to sit next to a dead woman.

She added: 'There were no curtains. She [the dead woman] was just there. My mother had been sitting out in a chair and she was just beside herself. She was just shaking, freezing cold, she had nothing on her feet.'

Just days later, Ms Newstead also allegedly received a call from her mother from the ward, saying: 'You have to get me out of here' and 'I'd be better off at the vet'.

Garry Marsh, executive chief nurse for Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust which runs the hospital, said: 'We would like to again apologise that in this case, we did not meet the standards we strive for.'

He said the trust had taken the family's feedback seriously and had since changed its processes to plan staffing levels based on the particular needs of patients on the wards.

Experts have long warned the situation is only going to get worse, with the ailing NHS stuck in an 'eternal winter' amid staffing shortages and unprecedented demand.

Fresh data released in February also exposed the 'dire' state of the NHS, with more than 40 per cent of patients who attended A&E last year in England waiting at least four hours to be seen.

This is the equivalent of around 900,000 every month, marking a five-fold rise in the space of a decade.

Last week, a pensioner who was left in excruciating pain also told how he had to dial 999 from his own hospital bed for help.

Martin Wild was admitted to Salford Royal Hospital last year after developing a spinal infection following a private operation.

The 73-year-old was denied pain relief because of staff shortages and even left lying in his own urine during his horrifying eight-month stay in hospital, he claimed. Other patients nearby were also shouting and screaming for help.

At one point Mr Wild, who also has Parkinson's, told his wife: 'If I am going to die in this hospital, let it be soon.'

A doctor who assessed Mr Wild described him as being 'the most neglected patient I have ever seen'.

An investigation by the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, found his care caused him 'serious harm' and apologised for its failings.