Gloucestershire hospital nurses 'too busy' to feed patient

Dr Frank Harsent Trust chief executive Dr Frank Harsent said he was "extremely proud" of the hospital staff

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A patient who was left to starve, bullying and mismanagement are among the allegations being made by a senior NHS clinician in Gloucestershire.

The whistleblower has criticised the county's NHS Trust claiming his concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

"I think it has now reached a point where people don't care anymore," said the senior member of staff who wants to remain anonymous.

The NHS Trust has defended itself against all the allegations being made.

Dr Frank Harsent, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I am disappointed that this individual feels that the best way to highlight their concerns about our organisation is to approach the media.

"The fact that they choose to remain anonymous leaves me in the position of having to defend allegations on a broad range of issues without having specific details."

'Looked emaciated'

The clinician, who works at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital, said he was "fearful" for both hospitals claiming they were "hopelessly mismanaged".

On one occasion, he said a patient who came to theatre "looked emaciated" and said the nurses were "too busy" to feed the individual.

He said the patient could not feed themselves because they had broken an arm and had also suffered a stroke which meant they could not use the other arm.

Cheltenham General Hospital The senior NHS clinician said there was "a real lack of care" in the hospitals

"I think that is appalling and as the new Secretary of State for Health says, we are now normalising cruelty in our hospitals."

Jeremy Hunt's comment came in a speech in November 2012 to health professionals in central London and referred to cruelty and mismanagement issues at the Winterbourne View care home and Stafford Hospital.

The clinician said low morale, micromanagement and no funds were also contributing to what he described as a "very sad" situation.

He said: "With morale being low, naturally this impacts on the patients' experience - it has to - and on patients' treatments.

"I've come across patients who've been treated on the wards appallingly. There is a real lack of care."

'Sketchy details'

In response, Dr Harsent said he was "shocked and concerned" to hear the nurses were apparently too busy to feed a patient.

He also acknowledged that staff were feeling the impact of austerity measures including a pay freeze.

"However, I am absolutely clear that the quality of care provided to patients, their safety and their experience in our hospitals is of the utmost importance to us and to our dedicated and valued staff," he said.

Start Quote

They are being asked to do things above and beyond their remit, being told to 'shut up and get on with it' and to not complain”

End Quote Tanya Palmer Unison

"I know from the conversations I have had and from the feedback from patients and families, that the vast majority of our staff, including our managers, take great pride in their work and frequently go the extra mile for patients."

The whistleblower has also spoken out about a "bullying culture" which he claims he has seen "from middle line managers to other managers".

He said others had reported to him that managers "are told quite clearly they have to do what they are told, with no debate or discussion".

Tanya Palmer, from trade union Unison, gave her backing to the views of the consultant.

She said: "I can say quite categorically that we have had many discussions with people in fairly senior management who are saying the same things to us.

"They are being asked to do things above and beyond their remit, being told to 'shut up and get on with it' and to not complain.

"That is not a healthy workplace or healthy culture."

Dr Harsent denied there was a bullying culture within the organisation and said he was always happy to listen to the views of staff and regularly talked to senior staff whose views may differ from his own.

"I would like to be clear that I have never disciplined any of them for expressing their opinions," he said.

"We have more than 7,500 highly skilled and valued staff, and I am extremely proud of our staff and the commitment and care they show to patients."

Listen again to the full story broadcast on BBC Radio Gloucestershire via the BBC iPlayer.

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