Annals of Government Medicine

Recent investigations have revealed hospitals administered by Britain’s National Health Service to be veritable houses of horrors. Here is the latest shock headline: Patients starve and die of thirst on hospital wards. Hospital conditions under socialized medicine appear to be trending toward the medieval:

Forty-three hospital patients starved to death last year and 111 died of thirst while being treated on wards, new figures disclose today.

The death toll was disclosed by the Government amid mounting concern over the dignity of patients on NHS wards.

The Office for National Statistics figures also showed that:

* as well as 43 people who starved to death, 287 people were recorded by doctors as being malnourished when they died in hospitals;
* there were 558 cases where doctors recorded that a patient had died in a state of severe dehydration in hospitals….

The records, from the Office for National Statistics, follow a series of scandals of care of the elderly, with doctors forced to prescribe patients with drinking water or put them on drips to make sure they do not become severely dehydrated.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the statistics were a grim and shaming reflection of 21st century Britain. …

In many wards nurses were dumping meal trays in front of patients too weak to feed themselves and then taking them away again untouched.

Many of those who starve or die of thirst are elderly, but by no means all:

In July, an inquest heard that a young man who died of dehydration at a leading hospital rang 999 for police because he was so thirsty. Officers arrived at Kane Gorny’s bedside, but were told by nurses that he was in a confused state and were sent away.

The footballer and runner, 22, died of dehydration a few hours later, an inquest heard in July.

…[H]e was in hospital for a routine hip replacement. Doctors had warned that, without regular medication to control his fluid levels, he would die. But when he was admitted to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London, staff ignored repeated reminders from Mr Gorny and his family to give him the tablets, and he became severely dehydrated after being refused water.

His mother told the inquest that in May 2009 she received a distressed phone call from her son, in which he said he had called the police because he was so desperate for a drink.

Shortly before he died, his mother found him delirious and saw that his medication was untouched. … He died of water deficit and hypernatraemia, a medical term for dehydration, three days after he was admitted to hospital.

It has often been said that the paradigm of socialism is the public rest room. The British used to expect something better from their hospitals.

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