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Liz Kendall MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, in response to a report from the Care Quality Commission on hospital care of elderly patients, said:

“This is a very important report from the Care Quality Commission. Everyone who works for the NHS should read and reflect seriously on its findings.

“An unacceptably high number of older patients are denied basic help - with eating, drinking, or going to the toilet - and aren't treated with the dignity or respect we would all want for our elderly relatives. NHS services that are falling short must be brought up to the standards of the best.

“These problems are partly due to the pressures the NHS faces: big increases in demand, squeezed resources, and more very sick elderly patients ending up in hospital, often because they aren't getting the up-front care and support they need in the community and from social services. This problem will only increase as local council budgets are cut and care for older people at home is reduced.

“But there are deeper, cultural issues too.

“Healthcare is becoming increasingly specialised, with the risk that services too often focus on the medical and technical aspects of treatment and not on the basic human elements of care.

“Addressing this means looking closely at the training of nurses, healthcare assistants and other NHS staff.

“It also means ensuring the quality and experience of care for older people is a top priority for those who run our hospitals and for staff leaders on individual hospital wards.

“Right now the real challenge facing the NHS is to improve standards of care for patients whilst at the same time making significant efficiency savings. A huge structural re-organisation of the NHS will make it harder for the NHS to meet this challenge or to tackle the very serious problems raised by the CQC in its report.”

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