An independent inquiry is
to be launched into the standards of care for elderly patients at
Whipps Cross hospital in northeast London, where inhumane practices
were revealed by The Sunday Times last week.
An undercover reporter working for ISS Mediclean, a hospital
cleaning contractor, last week described how he saw a
wheelchair-bound woman left in her own excrement, as well as a nurse
mocking another patient for soiling herself. One patient had been
threatened with being locked in a room, while a hospital worker had
boasted that staff could steal drugs from the pharmacy.
Following the revelations, a member of Whipps Cross staff
employed by ISS Mediclean has been suspended, auditors are checking
access arrangements to the pharmacy and a new "statement of values"
was given to all hospital workers and posted up on boards last week.
A second hospital exposed - Colindale in north London - also said it
had instigated a wide-ranging review.
It has now emerged that prior to the exposť, Whipps Cross - a
large general hospital with teaching facilities - was already
subject to an inquiry by the NHS ombudsman.
Earlier this month a wide-ranging report by the Health Advisory
Service 2000, an independent charity, strongly criticised elderly
care in general at the hospital and issued 41 recommendations -
which have yet to be implemented.
Separately, the hospital commissioned an internal report over
allegations surrounding the mistreatment of Edward Currey, 80, who
was admitted to the Chestnut ward in April 1998 when he was dying
from prostate cancer. Currey was forced to lie in his own excrement,
had no assessment for pain relief and was allowed to stay in bed
only for the last two days of his 11 days there.
"My dad went through the same kind of experience described in The
Sunday Times," said his daughter Elaine.
The hospital inquiry produced 36 recommendations and these also
appear not to have been implemented.
An official report into Garlands hospital in Carlisle, published
late last week, revealed how patients had been beaten, tied to
lavatories and force-fed.
The ward manager left before being disciplined and her
whereabouts is unknown. She has not been struck off by the UKCC, the
nurses' governing body.
The report, produced by the North Lakeland Healthcare Trust,
which runs the unit, and North Cumbria health authority, said
complaints had been ignored initially. It was only when student
nurses raised the alarm again that a catalogue of abuse, described
as "sad and indefensible", was unveiled.
Mary Styth, chairwoman of the North Lakeland Trust and who had
called for the investigation, was sacked by John Hutton, junior
health minister, on Thursday. She claimed she was dismissed for
speaking out. "There was a conspiracy of silence by senior staff,"