“Unacceptable” failures by hospitals to meet older people’s nutritional and dignity needs have been uncovered by the Care Quality Commission.
Three of 12 hospitals visited by inspectors failed to meet essential standards of nutrition and dignity laid down by the regulator. The CQC said Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust and Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust could face enforcement action. Three other hospitals needed to improve.
Poor nutrition and hydration have a detrimental effect on patients, especially those with dementia, and are linked to the increased probability of entering residential care.
Inspectors found instances of people not being helped to eat, not given enough to drink and being spoken to in a condescending manner.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley and the NHS Confederation slammed the standards at the three hospitals as “unacceptable”.
“We in the NHS cannot tolerate the failure to meet minimum standards in any way, shape or form,” said Keith Pearson, chair of the NHS Confederation. “We should remember that minimum standards are just the starting point. We should all expect to experience something better than that.”
These are the first published reports from the CQC from inspections of 100 hospitals on whether the nutritional and dignity needs of older people are being met. A national report is due in September.
“These are not difficult things to get right – and the fact that staff are still failing to do so is a concern,” said Jo Williams, chair of the CQC.
“I will be writing to the chair of every hospital where this inspection programme has identified poor care to ask what they plan to do address these issues.”
The British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN), which campaigns for improved nutritional standards in health and social care, also raised concerns about the findings.
“Hospitals have all the evidence, guidance and training materials they need – much of it provided by BAPEN,” said chair Dr Mike Stroud. “They should by now have made nutritional care a priority and have focused on redesigning systems to ensure that good nutritional care is delivered to all patients – it is therefore unbelievable that so many patients are still being let down by managers and staff over such fundamental issues of care.”
What do you think?Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails