James Paget Hospital criticised for elderly care

A LOWESTOFT man has slammed the care his wife and other elderly patients were given by staff at the James Paget University Hospital –and compared it with a prisoner-of-war camp.

Michael Marler, 82, called an ambulance for his wife Monica, 80, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, on February 5 because she was not eating.

However, he said when he went to visit her the next day she had not been given any food and was not washed once during her three-day stay at the hospital.

He claimed he also had to help other elderly patients in the same ward after staff ignored their pleas for help.

Mr Marler said: “I spoke to the nurse and said I was rather alarmed that nothing had been given to my wife because the reason she was in hospital was because she had not eaten or drunk anything.

“I went three times a day to give her little things because it was clear that she had not received any attention. The nurse did prepare four little sandwiches for her, but no effort was made to try and help her. The help and care is just not given. She may be senile or has a serious illness and no one had gone up and said: ‘Come on my lovely, try a little bit of this or a bit of that’.”

The former factory supervisor claimed a neighbouring patient was crying “Help, help, water, water,” so he gave her a drink.

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“On the same side, another couple of patients said ‘I want some help,’ and the nurse said ‘I want some help too,’ and left,” Mr Marler alleged.

The great-grandfather said there had been six members of staff and two doctors on duty, but it was only when he threatened to sue that anyone came over to help his wife.

“It was like a prisoner-of-war camp. I am not saying it was hostile, more that the staff showed a negative attitude. It was like these people did not exist and should not have been there in the first place.”

But Mr Marler was keen to point out he did not have an axe to grind generally against the hospital and said he received good treatment when he visited its eye clinic to have his sight tested.

He said: “These people were born in the 1920s and 1930s and have worked hard and paid National Insurance all their lives, so I think they are entitled to good care at the end of their lives.”

However, a hospital spokesman said: “We do have a number of initiatives in place to ensure that the quality of care we give to our elderly patients is of a very high standard.

“We consider the patient’s safety and their privacy and dignity to be the primary focus of the care we deliver.”

He said the hospital had introduced same sex accommodation, protected meal times and the Essence of Care programme. Some of the aspects included are communication, nutrition, hydration and personal care.

Julia Hunt, chief matron at the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are always disappointed to receive any complaints where care has not been of the highest standard. We are sorry that on this occasion, the care received has not met expectations.”

Mr Marler’s allegations come in the week a health service ombudsman’s report criticised the NHS for failing to treat elderly patients with care, dignity and respect.

The report’s conclusions followed an in-depth review of 10 cases which revealed patients aged over 65 suffered unnecessary pain, neglect and distress. Of 9,000 complaints received nationally by the ombudsman last year, 18pc related to the care of the elderly.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Call Dominic Bareham on 01493 847956 or e-mail dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk