Care can’t get better until complaints are heardBMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4511 (Published 02 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4511
A close family member who is a retired consultant recently spent seven weeks in an NHS hospital after having a stroke. The stroke left him with paralysis on one side, aphasia, and an inability to demonstrate any significant understanding. As a family of doctors (I am a general practitioner, the patient’s wife is a retired general practitioner, my brother in law is a consultant) we were dismayed at what we encountered. The staff on the ward were, it seemed, incapable of ensuring consistent standards of adequate care and frequently when the care was poor they did not notice or only reacted when prompted to do so by us. The experience of being the relative of a vulnerable patient for those seven weeks and for the months that have followed have given me an insight into why the NHS continues to fail patients and relatives.
The patient’s care often fell below an acceptable standard. The buzzer was frequently left out of his reach, his false teeth were not put in, he was left parked in a …