17 May 2007
The Healthcare Commission, the health watchdog yesterday published results of their survey of hospital inpatients who were asked about issues that patients consider most important in their care. It is reassuring to note that over 90% of the 81,000 participants from 167 acute Trusts and Specialist hospitals reported a positive experience of their time in hospital with `higher standards of cleanliness on wards, reduced waiting times for planned admission and better written information about their care’. This clearly indicates the appreciation patients have for the work of NHS staff of which we can be justly proud.
On aspects relating to dignity in care however, the results of the survey are disquieting. Approximately 30% of patients admitted as emergency admissions and 11% as planned admissions reported having to share a sleeping area such as a ward or bay; and more worryingly, 30% reported sharing a bathroom or shower area with patients of the opposite sex. The findings are consistent with the experience of 25% of the 2500 participants in the Patients’ Forums organisation survey. Anna Walker, Chief Executive of Healthcare Commission, said: `It is also clear that for a significant minority of patients, the NHS is performing below standards or segregated accommodation.’
`Sick patients admitted for hospital care represent a vulnerable group whose respect, dignity and privacy must not be compromised. Effective action is long over due. We welcome the Chief Nursing Officer’s conclusion from her inquiry that the NHS has to do more to respect the privacy of male and female patients’, said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the MCB.