Health service ombudsman says older people are suffering in silence in NHS care

  • Dame Julie Mellor believes that over 65s fear a backlash if they don't raise issues with their healthcare providers or do not like making a fuss.

    Dame Mellor thinks that older people may be "suffering in silence" under NHS care due to their reluctance to complain about any poor care they receive. She believes that they are either in fear of a backlash if issues are raised, or don't like making a fuss. This results in watchdogs only seeing the tip of the iceberg in serious failings, reports the Guardian.

    Due to this Dame Mellor is calling for a "cultural shift in the way" that complaints are handled in the health and social care system.

    Dame Mellor has said: "Older people are some of the most frequent users of the NHS but they are less likely to complain about treatment and care when standards slip to unacceptable levels. Our research shows that a quarter of older people don't know where to go to complain about the NHS, despite using the service more often than people under 65. Complaints are a gift to the NHS because that is how improvements are achieved. Older people should be encouraged to complain and taken seriously when they do. Almost 80% of all the investigations we carry out are about NHS services. Even though nearly half of NHS care and services are given to older people, only a third of the health complaints we investigate are about the care of older people. Of the cases we do see, there are common themes running through complaints about the care of older people," the ombudsman said. "Misdiagnosis, staff attitudes, poor communication with patients and families, substandard nutrition, and patients not being treated with dignity, just to name a few."

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