We have seen many cases over recent years where clients have seen their loved ones treated poorly in their last few days of life. Those concerns have been expressed on a national level in two major reports.
The first, by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in May 2014 confirmed that end of life care requires wide scale improvements. The report found that less than half of NHS patients who were in their last hours/days were told that they were dying by hospital staff, whilst families and relatives are left with little or no emotional support.
Concerns have also been expressed that there is a lack of specialist palliative care at weekends.
A common complaint involves the provision of fluid to the dying patient. Many families have complained that dying relatives were not given fluids. The report found that only 17 % of patients have a conversation about thirst, with almost 40% not assessed at all to see if they needed fluids through a drip .
The report found there was very little training for hospital staff in the care of the dying. Training in the care for the dying was mandatory for doctors in only 19% of Trusts and for nurses in only 28% of the Trusts. Sadly over half of all Trusts did not have a named board member with responsibility for care of the dying.
The second report, considering the NHS and end of life care was published by the the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman in 2015. The report, titled ‘Dying without dignity’. This report criticised the end of life care received by NHS patients. In the report 265 complaints about palliative care were investigated, with failings being found in over half of those cases.
There were issues relating to the failure to properly manage patients pain, poor or insensitive communication with the patient and their relatives, and a failure to involve a dying person and their family in decisions about care and treatment.
Taken together, its clear these reports confirm patients who are approaching the end of their life need high-quality treatment and care that support them to live as well as possible until they die, and to die with dignity.
The attached news item highlights the impact of lack of end of life care. In this instance we represented the daughter of a patient who received appalling end of life care.
Lime’s Robert Rose, who represented the family, stated to the press that: “At a time when family members have to put their trust in the healthcare system, it is unforgiveable when this trust is broken. When involved in distressing situations regarding the care and wellbeing of a family member, there is no excuse to be distracted by inadequate standards of care when all the focus should be on making the patient as comfortable as possible. This incident is indicative of a wider resourcing issue across the NHS due to squeezed NHS budgets but failure to have the appropriately qualified staff is inexcusable for any medical problem.”
Read more on the Express Online
Robert Rose is Lime’s Head of Clinical & Medical Negligence. If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of mistreatment please call us on Freephone 0808 164 0808 for a free, no-obligation chat. Alternatively, you can complete the request a call back form and we will call you.