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Annals of Government Medicine

A National Health Service hospital in Great Britain has paid claims by 38 patients or their families, and has apologized to all of them for the grossly negligent care it provided. The Telegraph headlines:”Hospital apologises to 38 families for appalling care that saw a patient starve to death.”

An NHS hospital has apologised to 38 families after a patient starved to death and it left other dying people screaming in pain.

In one of the worst cases, a man had starvation recorded as the cause of his death after being treated at the hospital for two months. …

Bereaved relatives had told how vulnerable patients were left to starve when trays were placed out of their reach, while others were left in soaking bedsheets. … The move will serve to intensify debate on why some nurses and doctors are treating patients without compassion, and will add weight to the warning by Mr Hunt that patients can experience “coldness, resentment, indifference” and “even contempt” in NHS hospitals.

He warned that in the worst institutions, a “normalisation of cruelty” had been fostered. …

The catalogue of failings uncovered by the mass legal action is one of the worst ever exposed at an NHS hospital.
It included:

• A former nurse whose son told how she died after being left unwashed for 11 weeks, and was put on medication so powerful that she could not speak;

• A 35-year-old father-of-four whose family told how he wasted away because staff did not know how to fit a feeding tube;

• A pensioner who was left screaming in pain when his ribs were broken during a botched attempt to hoist him;

• A man who could not feed himself whose daughter described how he was taunted by nurses who took away his food uneaten;

• A great-grandmother left permanently unable to walk after doctors failed to detect a hip fracture.

The families received an average of around $16,000 apiece. Prince Charles has entered the debate over government health care with an article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, in which the prince wrote that there is “an urgent need to restore ‘a climate of care and compassion’ in the health service.” No surprise there: under government medicine, you get the same “climate of care and compassion” in hospitals as you do in the post office.

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