NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 5, 2007

Great Britain's government-run National Health Service (NHS) hospitals are failing to treat people with dignity and respect as complaints reveal patients are left unwashed, in soiled bedding and in humiliating open-backed gowns, according to the British Healthcare Commission.

According to the commission's 2007 "state of healthcare" report:

  • 1 in 5 patients who wanted help with eating did not get it and others complained that food or drink was placed out of reach.
  • Other complaints over dignity included a lack of regular baths or showers, gowns that failed to protect patients' modesty and curtains being opened while a patient is receiving intimate care.
  • 1 in 10 hospitals in England did not meet standards on patient privacy and confidentiality.

In addition:

  • Half of patients in mental health wards and almost 3 in 5 with learning disabilities were treated in mixed-sex accommodations.
  • A third of patients admitted to the hospital as an emergency were sleeping in mixed-sex areas and 30 percent of in-patients had to share bathroom or shower areas with the opposite sex.
  • Patients were also frustrated that staff often did not have access to their notes, meaning they had to describe their condition repeatedly to different doctors.
  • A fifth of patients had been assaulted on mental health wards.

Source: Rebecca Smith, "NHS patients face humiliating treatment," Daily Telegraph, December 5, 2007.


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