Age Cymru's NHS patient dignity training call
- 5 December 2012
- From the section Wales
Hospital staff must be trained on the importance of patients' dignity, a charity says, after an MP claimed her husband "died like a battery hen".
Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd broke down as she described the "coldness, resentment, indifference and contempt" of nurses who treated Owen Roberts.
She has complained to the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff.
Older people's charity Age Cymru said her emotional account of poor care in a Welsh hospital was not a "one-off".
UHW says it would like to discuss Ms Clwyd's complaints with her, while the Welsh government said it recognised that more work needed to be done to ensure that all patients receive high quality care.
Mr Roberts, a former head of news and current affairs for BBC Cymru Wales and an ITV executive, had been treated for multiple sclerosis before his death in October.
Ms Clwyd, 75, was highly critical of the care UHW nurses gave him when she spoke on BBC Radio 4's The World At One programme on Tuesday.
She said that hours before he died of hospital-induced pneumonia he was "extremely cold", with "very thin inadequate sheets" half covering him.
He was also cramped and squashed up against the iron bars of his bed with an oxygen mask that did not fit and he had an eye infection, she added.
"He was very distressed and totally aware of his situation and, although unable to speak because of the oxygen mask, he made it clear he was cold and wanted to come home," she added.
She also explained how she had seen a nurses round only once between 14:30 BST and 22:30 BST during her visit and when she asked why her husband wasn't in intensive care she was dismissed.
Age Cymru policy advisor Amy Clifton said the charity applauded Ms Clwyd for raising the complaint and speaking out publicly about the issue.
"Sadly Age Cymru believe this case is not a one-off as too often we hear reports from older people and their families across Wales of patients in hospital receiving poor standards of care," she said.
"In the worst cases such failings can constitute abuse and undermine basic human rights such as protection from degrading treatment, and the rights to privacy and preservation of life."
Age Cymru is calling on the Welsh government to work with health boards across Wales to urgently investigate and address the failings in standards of basic care in some hospitals.
It says there "must also be mandatory human rights and dignified care training for frontline health and social care staff in Wales to ensure that patients' dignity is always maintained".
Ms Clwyd admitted that the whole experience of her husband's time in hospital gives her nightmares and she broke down in tears as she said: "I really find it difficult to sleep and very difficult to talk about."
She added that she felt she should bring a complaint "because I think it's just too common place, this sort of thing".
A Welsh government spokesman said that while "significant improvements" had been made to patient care in recent years through a number of initiative, it recognised that "further work needs to be done to ensure that every patient in every ward receives high quality care consistently".
Meanwhile, UHW said it acknowledged the seriousness of the concerns raised by Ms Clwyd and welcomed the chance to meet her so that a full and formal investigation into the case could begin.
Ms Clwyd spoke out on the day the chief nursing officer for England called for more emphasis on nurses providing compassionate care in hospitals.
In a new campaign aimed at reassuring the public, Jane Cummings said action must be taken to ensure the values such as compassion, communication and commitment in public health care were embedded.