Health ombudsman criticises NHS care for older people

Health ombudsman Ann Abraham has uncovered recurrent “deficiencies” in the treatment of older people by NHS services, in her annual report published yesterday.

Abraham’s criticisms included a lack of attentive care “sometimes tantamount to neglect”, poor communication between professionals, inadequate assistance with feeding and poor risk assessment.

The report reveals the health ombudsman has carried out “a number of substantive investigations” of complaints involving people with a mental illness.

Common themes identified included a failure to follow national guidance on care planning, inadequate explanations of care and treatment and a “tendency to disregard people’s views and concerns”.

Around one-third of the 1,139 complaints received by Ann Abraham in 2006-7 concerned continuing care, and 85% of the 352 on this issue were fully or partially upheld, a much higher proportion than for other types of complaint. However, complaints on continuing care were well down on last year’s 1,097.

However, the report says there are still too many applicants for retrospective continuing care funding who have not had their applications properly determined.

The Department of Health published guidance on continuing care redress in March, clarifying how compensation should be paid to those who had wrongly missed out on funding.

The health ombudsman had previously found the department guilty of maladministration for the way it advised the NHS to compensate people who had been wrongly denied funding.

Ann Abraham has written to the DH asking how it will bring the long-standing problem to a resolution.

More information

Continuing care tops complaints

Essential information on elderly people

Essential information on health

Essential information on mental health

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