In the last year, inspectors observed examples of unacceptably poor care at one in five hospitals. By March this year, the care regulator listed 45 hospitals not providing safe care following 215 inspections – close to three times the 16 hospitals failing on this measure in the same month in 2013.
In the same period, Care Quality Commission inspectors found 32 hospitals without adequate numbers of staff – more than one in six - after inspecting 175, up from 14 only a year earlier.
The inspectors’ official reports catalogue the failings witnessed, including:
- a trebling of bed sores put down to under-staffing;
- patients on the wrong wards not visited by doctors over the weekend;
- patients transferred from other hospitals without any medical notes;
- diabetic patient left without insulin;
- unstaffed ambulance triage area, leaving patients and paramedics waiting;
- unanswered call-bells;
- patient needing fall assessment every 48 hours not seen for 3 weeks;
- inexperienced A&E receptionist told patients with chest pains to take a seat, against hospital policy on suspected heart attacks;
- patients at risk of malnutrition or dehydration not given assistance to eat and drink;
- backlog of X-rays and CT scans reports caused by lack of staff;
- an overreliance on locum and agency staff.
This provides indisputable proof that the NHS is heading seriously downhill on this Government’s watch. Hospitals across England are operating way beyond safe bed occupancy levels and without enough staff.
It is simply not good enough for the Government to blame the NHS, as they always trying to do. Hospitals are having to pick up the pieces from their botched policies. Severe strains on general practice, mental health and social care are piling pressure on hospitals. There is a limit to what hospitals can safely do and these reports show that many have now reached and even gone beyond it.
What we are now seeing are the consequences of David Cameron’s disastrous decision to destabilise the NHS with an unwanted and unnecessary re-organisation. Hospitals are struggling, NHS waiting lists are at a six-year high and it has got harder for millions to get a GP appointment.
But, as the NHS in England goes downhill, Ministers have spent the last year pointing the finger at the NHS in Wales. Self-serving spin like that is of no use to patients. People will rightly ask: why wasn’t their attention focused where it should have been - on services in England?
This explains why people have reached the conclusion the NHS is simply not safe in David Cameron’s hands. He must cut the spin and bring forward a credible plan to ensure hospitals are safe and properly staffed.