Personal Views

Some NHS care is unacceptable

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 21 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1460
  1. Clare Hamon, general practitioner, Plymouth

    Editorial by McKenna

    Are we prepared to accept inhumane hospitals? Are we prepared to condone staffing levels which we know will inevitably push staff beyond the limits of their stamina and compassion, and will cause patients to suffer?

    During the Christmas period of 1997, Simon, the husband of a good friend of mine, died in hospital, 12 days after his admission and nine days after major surgery. During his hospital stay two other patients died in his bay of the ward. One was in the bed next to Simon. In the few hours before his death he was incontinent of faeces six times. The man found this distressing and repeatedly apologised. Although a nurse cleaned him up each time, his body was left on the ward for two hours after his death, during which time Simon was aware of the strong smell of his faeces. It would have been preferable …

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