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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee


BMJ An unsafe ward

Judy Shakespeare, GP, wrote: I have received over 30 supportive personal comments on my article about the death of my father. It is striking how many people were not surprised by what I described and many shared their own sad personal stories with me. This suggests that poor basic care for elderly patients could be endemic within the NHS, with mid-Staffs only acting as a scapegoat for a widespread institutional malaise.

The suggestion that relatives could help with basic nursing care is interesting and has been endorsed recently by the think-tank 2020health in their report "Too posh to wash". I was happy to help with my Dad’s care during the day. As I said in my article I wish I had stayed overnight; if I had, he would not have fallen. But the structure of wards often makes it difficult: beds are too close together and there is frequently too much “clutter”. In addition I did not have the impression that I would have been welcomed by the nursing staff.