Stafford Hospital

Hundreds of hospital patients died needlessly. In the wards, people lay starving, thirsty and in soiled bedclothes, buzzers droning hopelessly as their cries for help went ignored. Some received the wrong medication; some, none at all…. patients were left so dehydrated that some began drinking from flower vases.

Having lived in a Third World country for 5 years, this description of a hospital in the Telegraph last month shouldn’t have shocked me. But this isn’t describing an African hospital, or a hospital in a war zone or disaster area….this is Stafford Hospital, my local hospital. My sister and brothers were born there; I went there when I broke my arm. And yet, today, it is at the centre of one of the UK’s biggest scandals.
image from http://img.thesun.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01649/Staffordshire_Gene_1649604a.jpg

The article describes the terrible conditions that so many people needlessly endured at Stafford Hospital over the last few years. It explains how patients were not given the care they needed, because the hospital was so focused on achieving targets and gaining a ‘foundation trust status’. Sadly there are so many stories of people who died, when their deaths could have been prevented.

This story from yesterday’s Guardian describes how John Robinson was misdiagnosed, and discharged from the hospital only to pass away the following morning, due to his untreated ruptured spleen. It really moved me, and I hope that it will also move others so that it can be prevented in the future. 

image from http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/multimedia/archive/00077/77933421_Stafford_77680c.jpg

Of course everyone makes mistakes, but as a doctor, or a nurse, you have to deal with life and death situations and making mistakes can be fatal. However, the mistakes made should not have been covered up by the hospital and the NHS, as the relatives of those who suffered have a right to know the truth.

These stories made me realise the huge responsibilities that doctors and nurses have. I hope that in the future, patient care and the interests of the patient will always come first, and that if conditions do deteriorate, patients, relatives, doctors or carers are able to speak out and be heard straight away.