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Pensioner Lilian Williams was seriously neglected at two hospitals before she died. (Report: 31 October 2013)

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Failings in patient care at two Welsh hospitals have been criticised in an independent report.

The Trusted To Care review was held after concerns at Neath Port Talbot Hospital and the Princess of Wales Hospital in south Wales.

It followed the neglect of patient Lilian Williams, 82, who died after being treated at both hospitals.

Her family complained and it led to the review, they are now calling for a public inquiry.

First-hand experiences

A review team member said: "There were patients calling out, one stuck in bed with bed rails, and one lady said to me, 'I am in hell'."

The daughter of one patient said: "We couldn't look to the nurses to care for mum. They had no power. They couldn't get a doctor when we needed one.

"They couldn't get medicines over the weekend, or a swallowing test. My mum had no medication or food or water for days."

Another said: "Dad has someone to help him wash and dress every morning at home, but in hospital they left him with the cloth and a bowl to wash himself.

"I found dried excrement on his legs …when we got him home. He can't see or reach round behind him. If I had known I'd have got the carers to come in and see to him in the hospital."

Source: Trusted To Care

Mrs Williams, from Porthcawl, had been admitted to both hospitals a total of four times between August 2010 and November 2012, when she died.

Her family claimed she suffered "appalling" neglect.

The ombudsman who investigated her family's complaint was highly critical of her care, and called the case tragic.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board subsequently apologised and admitted the case had been "completely unacceptable".

Since then, campaigners have called for a public review and the resignation of the board's chief executive. They claim "hundreds" of examples of poor care have come to light.

A review was ordered by Health Minister Mark Drakeford into levels of care offered by both hospitals.

It catalogued a series of failings at the two hospitals, describing "a sense of hopelessness" in its care for frail and elderly patients. It found "poor professional behaviour" and a "lack of suitably qualified, educated and motivated staff." One patient told the review team: "I am in Hell."

Princess of Wales Hospital The Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend was scrutinised as part of the review

Others said elderly patients were instructed to go to the toilet in their beds, medicines had been recorded as given when they were not, and staff tolerated dangerous practice.

The report also found there was:

  • Variable or poor professional behaviour and practice in the care of frail older people
  • Deficiencies in elements of a culture of care based on proper respect and involvement of patients and relatives
  • Unacceptable limitations in essential 24/7 services leading to unnecessary delay to treatment and care
  • Lack of suitably qualified, educated and motivated staff particularly at night
  • Adversarial and slow complaints management
  • Disconnection between front-line staff and managers and confusion over leadership responsibilities and accountabilities
  • Problems with organisational strategies on quality and patient safety, capacity development and workforce planning
  • The report also says some staff felt ill equipped to meet the needs of patients with dementia

The report said: "There are aspects of the care of frail older people which are simply unacceptable and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

"ABMU has not at any point been 'another Stafford'. But no one should be in any doubt that there are aspects of the care of frail older people which are simply unacceptable and must be addressed as a matter of urgency through action by the Board of ABMU and by the Welsh government."

Health Minister Mark Drakeford apologised to those patients affected.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford told AMs the report was "shocking"

"I have been shocked by some of what I have read in this report. I am determined that nothing of this sort will be tolerated in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board or indeed anywhere else in Wales in the future," said Mr Drakeford.

The report made 18 recommendations for improvement which Mr Drakeford said had all been accepted.

First Minister's Carwyn Jones described the contents of the report as "shocking" during First Minister's Questions, and said the Welsh government accepted its recommendations.

Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd, who has criticised the Welsh NHS since the death of her husband at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff in 2012, said: "The Andrews report underlines the urgent need for a radical overhaul of independent regulation and inspection in NHS Wales.

"These events could not have happened if there was a regulator doing its job," she said.

Following the publication of the report, ABMU Health Board Chairman, Professor Andrew Davies, said: "As a Health Board we expect the highest professional standards and behaviours and will not tolerate poor care. This report was very uncomfortable to read but we are determined to emerge as a Health Board where all our hospitals provide excellent, patient-centred, care."

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