I don't propose to comment on the events at Stafford, but I suspect that much of what happened there is common, to a greater or lesser degree, at many hospitals. Indeed, it has been announced that five other hospitals are now under investigation.
I would just draw attention to the experience of a close friend, like myself in her late seventies, who went into her local hospital for a relatively minor operation. The difference here was that she had been a Ward Sister in the very same hospital for a good many years before her retirement, and she was totally disgusted at the way standards had slipped, and was adamant that none of the nurses would have remained on the ward if she had still been in charge!
When she came out, she wrote a carefully considered letter to the hospital chief executive, pointing out the various shortcomings, mainly in respect of hygiene and general cleanliness. Nurses failing to wash their hands and with dirty uniforms, poor cleaning of the ward, dirty toilets and washing facilities and a general lack of interest by the nurses in their patients, including their watching television and chattering at the nursing station during the night. She pointed out that in her time, the last thing that she would do before the lights were dimmed was to go round all the patients on the ward and do her best to ensure that they were comfortable for the night, something that was seemingly no longer general practice.. She detailed how things should, in her opinion, be done.
The letter was replied to by some underling, just a few lines acknowledging its receipt and saying, in effect "we don't do things that way these days".
There is absolutely no need for lack of cleanliness and basic hygiene in our hospitals, particularly with the increase in antibiotic resistant "super-bugs", and with statistics appearing to indicate that hospital acquired infections are on the increase in the UK. The need for hygiene has been known since the days of Florence Nightingale, but presumably now is considered to be "something we don't do these days"!
It is interesting to note that such infections in the US are now generally on the decrease and for a very good reason, they can cost the hospitals big money. Not from patients suing for damages, but simply because the main insurance companies announced that they would not pay any medical costs in respect of hospital acquired infections, with the result that suddenly the hospitals realised that the cost of cleanliness and hygiene was far less than having to carry the costs resulting from lack of them.
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